I finally got our two new programs and their needs up on the Sew For Kids site, we’re a special program working under “Hearts of the Sacred Spirit “ organization. It’s been a bit of a challenge as I had to coordinate with the Rez folks and as many of you know things there run on “Rez Time” so do take a bit longer.
Local community leaders and representatives from social services, the hospital and clinic, schools, churches and many others are interested in working together as a team to address children and family issues. With your help providing much needed resources and support and leaders on the Rez implementing the programs we hope to make the future for families a little brighter. The success of these programs depends on the SUPPORT we get FROM ALL OF YOU and the leaders on the Rez.
The Wanblee Community Health and Education Program (a working title, may be renamed after the leaders next meeting) is basically an incentive program to get pregnant women, parents and kids using the resources available in the community so children get a good start from conception through the formative years which gives them a good, healthy foundation for their future. Programs like Healthy Start in Pine Ridge Village, which follows moms during pregnancy and children through age 2, doesn’t have an office in the Wanblee area. Funding, staff cuts and the distance (110 miles) from Pine Ridge does not make the program easily accessible to families in Wanblee, so there is a need for a similar program in the area. Also parents don’t seem to use the programs offered by Head Start and the local schools.
Many parents have minimal knowledge of basic child development, lack parenting skills and do not have the resources (books, toys) to work and interact with their children. Many parents are teens or young adults and are not aware of services offered or of their value to them and their children. Currently the local community services are not working together as a coordinated team. Community leaders want to begin changing this by:
- Taking a team approach so that all providers understand what the other one does.
- Educating parents on local services offered and encouraging them to use the local services each time they access one of the offered services.
- Compile a pamphlet of services offered in the community and the Rez in general so this and other educational material is made available anywhere parents access help- clinic, schools, social services, etc. They are also in need of sample educational materials on various subjects for leaders to review and possibly purchase for use in their clinics, schools etc, something our group could help with as we all visit clinics.
- Offering “incentives” to help get parents into the clinics, schools and social services. Parents earn points each time they use a service, these points will allow them to “shop” in the store. These types of programs have been very successful on other reservations as well as across the country, especially in poverty stricken areas where resources are limited.
- Set up the incentive store by asking people like us to stock it with resources needed by parents – clothing, toiletries, school supplies, basic toys or crafts, etc.
- Offer parenting courses at the local Head Start, health education courses at the clinic on various topics, cultural events that will help people connect with their community.
What’s our role in this program? We will help stock the incentive store with clothing, toys, toiletries, etc. that we sew, craft, or purchase so parents will have the needed resources to raise their children. A local church has offered an area where items can be shipped to and stored safely. We will need items for children age 0-5 years for this program. The idea is that once parents use the services and see their value they will continue to use them as their kids grow and will come without an incentive. Sew For Kids will start blogging about projects we can make to help get this store going.
The second program is the “Growing UP Closet” for children aged 0-12 and will be in the same location as the incentive store. Clothing items, toiletries, school supplies, toys, etc. will be needed. Teachers, medical personnel, social workers and other leaders will identify children or parents in need and they’ll be able to access the store and hopefully find what they need. We want children to have proper clothing to attend school, the school supplies to learn and toys so kids can have fun and be a kid.
For more information check the “Make A Difference” tab on our home page and look under “Current Needs” and “Programs We Help”. Join our Sew For Lakota Kids Yahoo group where we discuss projects, give sewing tips, and share patterns. Don’t sew or craft? We still need you! You can help by spreading the word about us and our programs, make a monetary donation for the purchase of things we can’t make such as school supplies and toiletries, and by sharing your ideas and knowledge with us. Hearts of the Sacred Spirit has a donate button on their site for Sew For Kids, they are a 501(c) (3) not for profit charity and donations are tax deductible as permitted by law. Check out the other programs on their site, all of which benefit the children we want to help. And we NEED YOUR HELP to make the programs a reality and a success! We would love other groups to work with us to help make these programs a success. We’re back to sewing in the next blog, thanks from SFK.