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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


July 28, 2001 - Issue 41


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A 'Positive Place for Kids'
Boys & Girls Clubs of the Navajo Nation
opens Nageezi facility


 by Sasheen Hollow Horn The Navajo Times-July 12, 2001


Photo of Window Rock

WINDOW ROCK - "The positive place for kids" is on its way.

The Boys & Girls Club of the Navajo Nation will be hosting a grand-opening ceremony at the Nageezi Multi-purpose facility today for the second of 11 new centers planned to be completed by 2002.

Though the Nageezi chapter of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America is not one of the new centers identified by the recent grant awarded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, it will provide the same youth programs and activities for regional Navajo communities, organizers said.

The first club new to the reservation opened in Kayenta on July 2. More clubs are planned for the communities of Alamo, Crownpoint, Aneth, Chinle, Fort Defiance, Dilkon and Tuba City.

The Fort Defiance and Crownpoint boys & girls clubs are close to opening, said Spencer Willie, Boys & Girls Clubs of the Navajo Nation program director.

Both are waiting on facilities transactions - the renovation of the Quonset hut next to Window Rock Field House and negotiation of a joint lease with Gallup-McKinley County Schools for off-season use of school buildings, respectively - before they begin operation.

"But we do want to make sure communities know that we're working with different people to get (the clubs) established," Willie said.

The process of acquiring more clubs for the reservation began last summer with a partnership between the Navajo Nation and the national Boys & Girls Clubs of America.

The Navajo Nation, with the organization's assistance, applied to the HUD Indian Housing Drug Elimination Program. In October, the department informed the tribe that it had won $3 million to establish 10 clubs on the reservation.

It was one of the single largest grants of its kind awarded to a Native American entity, according to a news release from President Kelsey Begaye's office.

Boys & Girls Clubs of America - which matched the HUD award with $1 million - is an after-school program that provides educational opportunities and social and recreational activities for children and young adults. There are 2,851 clubs nationwide, 83 of which are in Native American communities and serve 3.3 million people under age 18.

The national organization is watching the Navajo Nation closely, for this will be the first time that Native American culture has been infused into the club's agenda, Willie said.

Shiprock and Tohatchi, communities that have operated clubs for the past five years, are serving as the models for grant experiment.

The Boys & Girls Club of Shiprock played host to former President Bill Clinton when he visited the Navajo Nation last year.

Serving about 400 members from Shiprock and surrounding areas, the club provides programs in art and computers, a library, game room, weight room, gymnasium, a boxing club and bike club, said assistant director Ralph Atcitty.

Activities like storytelling, swimming, skating, hikes and other field trips are commonplace throughout the summer.

Serving the Tohatchi, Naschitti, Mexican Springs, Coyote Canyon and Twin Lakes communities, the Boys & Girls Club of Tohatchi also provides activities to keep youth busy, said program director Michele Morris.

In addition to community service projects with the elderly and giving presentations to schools, the club shows movies, hosts pool and Nintendo tournaments and is the site of a small library open to the public.

The club will also be getting a new computer room, complete with 10 computers and a satellite, courtesy of Microsoft founder Bill Gates.

"There's not a whole lot in Tohatchi and this is something for them to do, a place to get homework done," Morris said.

Eventually, the Tohatchi club plans to create an organizational structure more like the national club, one that addresses physical, spiritual, mental, family and community needs with the national aims of recreation, academics and sports.

"Young kids give us positive energy. We want them to go to college, to have a career and maintain balance with their traditional culture and hopefully be role models," Morris said.

 Maps by Travel

Boys and Girls Club of America
In every community, boys and girls are left to find their own recreation and companionship in the streets. An increasing number of children are at home with no adult care or supervision. Young people need to know that someone cares about them.
Boys & Girls Clubs offer that and more. Club programs and services promote and enhance the development of boys and girls by instilling a sense of competence, usefulness, belonging and influence.

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Canku Ota is a copyright © 2000, 2001 of Vicki Lockard and Paul Barry.


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