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June 1, 2006 

Native Vision Camp Empowers Native Youth to Succeed

On June 4-6, nearly 700 native youth from 25 American Indian tribes will converge on Whiteriver, Ariz., for the opportunity to learn sports and life skills from more than 50 professional and collegiate athletes from the NFL, NBA and Major League Soccer, as well as volleyball and track, as part of the 10th Annual Native Vision Sports and Life Skills Camp. The camp will be held on the lands of the White Mountain Apache Tribe, about three hours northeast of Phoenix, Ariz.

Native Vision is a fast-growing national program that was founded in 1997 at the President’s Summit for America’s Youth. It is administered by the Center for American Indian Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA). The highlight of the program is an annual summer camp attended by native youth who gather at a reservation campsite.

Johns Hopkins has a 25-year history of working with tribes to overcome the major health disparities of Native American children and families. The mission of the NFLPA is to build better communities through the power of sports by applying strategic resources, with emphases on youth development, social welfare, education and healthy lifestyles. The program is currently under review as a “best practice” for at-risk children by a special White House committee called Making a Difference for America’s Youth.

At this year’s Native Vision camp, the professional athletes will conduct sports clinics interspersed with break-out sessions promoting education, healthy lifestyles, self-esteem, discipline, team work and cultural pride. Johns Hopkins staff members will also coordinate workshops promoting youth development through art and leadership skills. The Bureau of Indian Affairs will conduct an interactive workshop for youth aimed at preventing accidents resulting from drinking and driving.

Activities for parents and chaperones will feature a health fair, a parenting/literacy workshop led by experts from Sylvan Learning Center, a community-wide winter coat distribution thanks to Operation Warm, exhibitions of native dance and music, community feasts and cultural celebrations shared with campers and local volunteers from the host tribe.

An all-star basketball game will match the youth athletes against professionals from all five sports for a gymnasium event that will attract approximately 2,000 tribal community members. A special ceremony will award two Native Vision scholarships to outstanding rising college students. In addition, one outstanding professional athlete mentor will be recognized with the 2006 Native Vision Athlete of the Year Award, given in honor of the spirit of Danielle Shareef, a Native Vision athlete who was tragically killed in an automobile accident in May 2006. The award will honor an athlete whose camp performance demonstrates outstanding leadership, cultural respect, humanitarianism, humility and service to the campers and host community. Shareef’s family is also starting a fund in her memory to benefit Native Vision.

Year-round Native Vision activities include youth media programs to promote healthy lifestyles and cultural knowledge, after-school programs to promote fitness and diabetes prevention and outreach with at-risk families to promote parenting skills and ensure a healthy start for pre-school children.

All food, activities and workshops at the Native Vision camp are free of charge and are supported by funds raised by Johns Hopkins and the NFLPA. National advocates for this program have included retired U.S. Secretary of Commerce Donald L. Evans, retired U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, actor Robert Redford and talk show host Oprah Winfrey.

For more information about the Native Vision camp, contact Marlena Hammen at 443-465-4783 or Kathleen Norton at 928-338-5215 or 928-205-5822.

Participating athletes

Public Affairs media contacts for the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health: Tim Parsons or Kenna Lowe at 410-955-6878 or