Published October 13, 2016
SANTA ANA PUEBLO, NEW MEXICO – The Notah Begay III (NB3) Foundation launches new initiative encouraging Native children to drink more water and reduce their consumption of sugary-sweetened beverages (SSB) and promote breastfeeding. To support this work, NB3 Foundation has awarded $900,000 to nine tribes and Native-led organizations in the Southwest. Thanks to an investment from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, NB3 Foundation continues to address Native childhood obesity and Type 2 diabetes through health and physical activity investments and strategies throughout Indian Country.
Working with community partners from the Mescalero Apache Tribe, Navajo Nation and Pueblos in New Mexico, the NB3 Foundation is focused on better understanding and supporting culturally appropriate methods that increase water consumption and decreases SSB consumption among Native youth. Grant recipients will work together for 2½ years, conducting community assessments of sugary-beverage consumption, access to safe drinking water, and breastfeeding. Each community-led process will help grantees identify and implement a policy or system change effort in their communities.
Grantees, as part of a learning network, will convene together eight times over the course of the project to share, learn and strategize with each other. In addition, grantees will provide guidance to the NB3 Foundation on the launch of a national campaign to educate, inform and reduce the consumption of sugary beverages and promote the consumption of safe drinking water throughout Indian Country.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the consumption of SSBs have increased 500% in the past fifty years and is now the single largest category of caloric intake in children, surpassing milk in the late 1990s. Sugary drinks, such as soft drinks, fruit drinks, sports drinks, energy drinks, and sweetened milk or milk alternatives, now represent the biggest source of added sugar in children’s diets. These drinks are the one of the biggest contributors to calories in the U.S. diet, and have been linked to obesity, nutrition-related diseases and tooth decay. In New Mexico alone, 50% of Native American third-graders were either overweight or obese, according to the New Mexico Department of Health.
“We have an incredible group of Native communities that have demonstrated their commitment to children’s health and are ready to build a collaborative and culturally effective approach within their communities and as part of a learning network.” said Olivia Roanhorse, Director of NB3 Foundation’s Native Strong Program.
“Obesity has become a devastating epidemic among Native American children, impacting the quality and length of their lives,” said Kara Carlisle, director of New Mexico programs for the Kellogg Foundation. “Through the work of the NB3 Foundation and its partners, we are striving for better health outcomes for our Native children so they can reach their full potential in life.”
The nine recipients include (a summary and grantee community profiles are available by clicking here):
- COPE Project – Gallup, NM
The Community Outreach and Patient Empowerment (COPE) Project, a nonprofit collaboration between the Navajo Nation, Indian Health Services, and Harvard University and health care resources, seeks to eliminate health disparities and improve the well-being of American Indians and Alaska Natives.
- Five Sandoval Indian Pueblos, Inc. – Zia, Sandia, Santa Ana, Cochiti and Jemez Pueblos
The Five Sandoval Indian Pueblos’ goal is to decrease prevalence of sugary beverages in the WIC community in favor of water, plain milk, herbal and traditional teas, and enhance breastfeeding acceptance by employers in the community.
- Jemez Pueblo – Jemez Pueblo, NM
The Indigenous Action: Policies and Practice Project will focus on applying indigenous knowledge to policy and practice to shift the paradigm to community-based systems, environmental changes and intervention in Jemez Pueblo.
- Mescalero Apache Tribe (DRMP Youth Development) – Mescalero, NM
The tribe’s youth program will partner with IHS and other youth programs to conduct educational outreach to inform youth about the health implications of sugary drinks, and provide healthy activities and beverage alternatives. They also plan to support policy and possible legislation to regulate, reduce or eliminate sugary beverages in their community.
- Ramah Navajo School Board – Ramah, NM
The nonprofit organization that oversees Pine Hill Schools plans to develop and implement policies that eliminate student exposure to sweetened beverages during school, and incorporate a health curriculum taught by a youth educator, emphasizing the link to obesity and nutritionally related diseases.
- Santo Domingo Pueblo – Santo Domingo Pueblo, NM
The Supporting the Promotion of Lifelong Achievements for Sustaining Health or S.P.L.A.S.H project will aim to promote a holistic, community-based approach to ensure children and the community have access to safe drinking water and healthy food at tribal meetings, community events, local schools and all public places. The Pueblo also plans to promote breastfeeding.
- The STAR School – Flagstaff, AZ
The Service To All Relations or STAR School plans to make clean water readily available to all youth in the three Navajo communities it serves. And after assessing the attitudes toward sugary beverages, they also plan to develop and implement an educational program to decrease the consumption of sugary drinks and increase the desirability of water, traditional tea or berry-infused water among youth.
- Tamaya Wellness Center – Santa Ana Pueblo, NM
With the understanding that sugary beverages contribute to the epidemic of obesity and diabetes in the Pueblo, the Wellness Center’s project aims to change community attitudes and societal norms that there has to be Kool-Aid on the table and sugary beverages aren’t harmless through education, marketing and policy.
- Zuni Youth Enrichment Project – Zuni, NM
The Zuni Youth Enrichment Project’s Hydration for Health or H4H will, first, understand barriers to water consumption and community feelings toward sugary drinks. Second, H4H will promote and increase access to water on the reservation and provide all youth sports participants with water bottles, as well as provide drinking and filling stations at the future youth community park, creating access of safe drinking water to all community members.
This BBSNews article originally appeared on Native News Online.