Fighting For Our Lives: Overcoming an Epidemic
July 16, 2014

Guest Post by Autumn Quiver, OC Community Apprentice

Obesity and Type 2 diabetes in Indian country are equivalent to HIV and Aids in Africa! Over the past years, studies have shown an increase of the amount of Native American children getting Type 2 Diabetes. This type of diabetes is normally seen in adults, but that’s not the case anymore. It has started to show up in children of very young ages. Type 2 Diabetes has hit me personally with some of my family members being diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes and I also know some children in my community who are obese. I have seen what a day looks like for someone who has Type 2 Diabetes. I believe that children should not be worrying about adult problems. Lack of physical activity and poor nutrition are some of the main reasons why Native American children are getting Type 2 diabetes and becoming obese. That is where my apprenticeship comes in. 

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U12 Soccer Team I volunteered to coach. Photo taken at a soccer game we had this past Spring season.

My apprenticeship was conducted at the Notah Begay III Foundation in Santa Ana Pueblo and San Felipe Pueblos of New Mexico. NB3 Foundation is trying to reverse this epidemic of Native-American childhood obesity and Type 2 diabetes through sports, health and wellness programs, healthy foods access, and community leadership development. I started my apprenticeship in January of this year and finished at the end of June. Through this time I have seen the positive change we have made for the Pueblo of San Felipe.

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Rio Grande Charity Slam Golf Tournament. Celebrities and New Mexico’s finest played at the Santa Ana Golf Course to benefit The NB3 Foundation and Jewish Community Center.  (Left to Right: Corey Douma, Craig Lucero, Autumn Quiver, Kinsley Candelaria, Brian Urlacher, Kelcey Tate, Richard Rohl, Clint Begay)

We started by having monthly Fun Run/Walk’s for the community. For each month we choose different themes to make it fun for the community members. We mapped out a course that adds up to a 5K. We give the runners and walkers a choice between a 5K course or a mile course. We keep the trail the same so over time if every person continues to do the runs they can see the progress they are making. We have gotten great reviews from the participants and will continue to do this.

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San Felipe Day School Summer School Nutrition Program.

We went into the schools and did nutrition classes and physical activity with the children. We went into the San Felipe Pueblo Day School for their After School Program and did physical activity and nutrition for the kids. My main focus was the Nutrition aspect of the program. We developed a Nutrition program called Chra’peh which means “Eat!”, in Keres, our native language. The purpose of the Chra’peh Nutrition Pilot Program is to provide children and youth with a fun, hands-on experience with healthy snack making and tasting. The Chra’peh Nutrition Program includes 7 nutrition topic areas; there are 2 lesson plans for each topic area, with a total of 14 lesson plans. The topic areas are: Fruits, Vegetables, Proteins, Fats, Grains, Sugars, and Water. The Chra’peh Nutrition Pilot Program is a curriculum with lessons that are hands-on, activity rich, and provides general nutrition education messaging. The program can be used in a variety of settings, including after-school, sports-based, and summer programs. We made this curriculum broad so it is able to be implemented in different settings and be used for all age groups.

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Rio Grande Charity Slam Golf Camp. Free Golf camp held for all ages. We did Nutrition activities for Golf participants.  (Left to Right: Autumn Quiver, Notah Begay III, Ashley Pino)

The San Felipe Pueblo Day School was where we piloted the program first and then we were able to use it in all our different programming we were doing this year. We have used this curriculum for the After School Soccer Program, the Golf Summer Camps, and the Golf Program. While implementing this curriculum I have had so much fun interacting with all the kids and seeing the excitement on their faces when we would show up to do the program. The kids have told me they are more aware of the food they eat and are starting to make healthier choices. The kids take this knowledge home with them and they become the teachers. Parents have told me that their children are the ones making the healthy choices and making sure their family eats healthy. That is a major success and great to know that what we are teaching the kids is making them think more about what they put into their bodies.

San Felipe Pueblo

San Felipe Pueblo

This apprenticeship has opened my eyes to the problems that are going on in my community and other native communities. The children of my community are our future generation, our future leaders, doctors, teachers, dentist, etc. They are the ones who are going to carry on our traditions and our language. I believe that it is up to us to teach our kids the right path to a long healthy life. After my apprenticeship is over I plan to continue this work to prevent obesity and Type 2 Diabetes in Native American communities. With the guidance of the NB3 Foundation I have been able to grow as an individual and I am more confident