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Tribal health targeting men and youth in new programs

Jun 3, 2014 - By Alejandra Silva, Staff Writer

Eastern Shoshone Tribal Health has implemented two new programs with the intent to target specific groups on the Wind River Indian Reservation.

Eastern Shoshone Tribal Health director Cathy Keene said the department has hired additional personnel to direct the youth wellness and men's wellness programs.

They will "coordinate and develop" their programs, she said, to serve the groups of people in a spiritual, emotional, physical and educational capacity.

Most commonly, tribal health has integrated programs focusing on women's health and cancer care, fitness programs such as the Life Style Balance program, diabetes checks for children, cardiovascular health and others that pinpoint some of the top health problems on the reservation.

Men's wellness

The men's wellness program will reach out to a group that is often difficult to extend services to, said program coordinator Rory Robinson.

"It's very hard to get men to go in and get check-ups," Robinson said. "The goal is to get men to be proactive about their own wellness, (and) I want to address the issues that men don't want to talk about."

He explained emphasis will be placed on their social, emotional, physical and medical health.

"At the center of all that, I'm going to tie in traditional healing or traditional activities," he said. "I want men in our community to re-evaluate themselves."

The program will have community gatherings that will invite Indian Health Services doctors and specialists that can speak on topics such as suicide, depression, heart health or the men's role in their home and in the community, Robinson said.

Each month the program will present a different theme for its events and in attending, men earn points that eventually can go toward incentives and bigger prizes. They will be awarded for attending conferences, lectures, outdoor trips, basketball tournaments or a run or walk.

Robinson added that men of all ages will get something out of the program and they will enjoy it because it will make it easier for them to learn, share and be motivated to make changes that can benefit their overall health. The program will bring specialists and experts "under one roof," Robinson explained, and make it a "one-stop place" for men to get information and participate in different activities.

Youth wellness

Youth wellness program coordinator Jay Old Coyote said his program also will depend on collaborations with other resources on the reservation, and it will emphasize a cultural, traditional presence as well. Old Coyote previously has worked with local youth groups such as UNITY and the Eastern Shoshone Cross Age Peer Education project.

Youths from the Boys and Girls Club are also a big part of local activities, he said, and bringing them together with the tobacco and suicide initiatives would expand his program's outreach on the reservation. Old Coyote's role, however, would continue to focus on the cultural teachings he is known to have offered in the past.

"When they have functions, I'll be coming in as a more traditional, cultural source," he said, adding that he would educate youths on various topics, including on how tobacco was used in the past.

"I would explain how things have changed over time to hopefully create different perspectives," he said.

Old Coyote also would help establish training and meetings for youths as well as expand their understanding and get them involved with prayer and traditional practices. He said plans have been made for young participants to attend conferences in the summer and get the opportunity to network and make presentations.

"It's not so much telling them what to do or how to do what's right, but giving them the reigns and saying, 'How can I hep you or how can I guide you to be more successful in the community or in your life?" Old Coyote said.

This is another way to honor the youth, he said. He also plans to make presentations at schools on the reservation and offer his services and connections with other programs.

"Some programs have strengths and weaknesses, and that's where I come in and ask how can I help you," he said.

The tribal health office can be reached at 332-6805.

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