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Educating Native Youth on Preventing Obesity & Diabetes

Native Youth Prevenrting Diabetes (NYPD) is a direct result of the needs of the Native American children to learn about ways to prevent obesity and diabetes. The overwhelmingly majority of health providers felt the children were often forgotten as a population at risk and that the cultural needs of these children were often absent in mainstream teaching styles. NYPD has always included cultural awareness to help add the needed dimension of the Native American social unit as a force within diabetes prevention.

In addition to the cultural aspect of preventing obesity and diabetes, NYPD includes the following through educational classes and interactive group sessions lead by tribally-based professionals that have gone through extensive training and a thorough background check for the safety of each camper.

  • Registered dietitians use gameshow and real-life shopping experiences as teaching methods that allow the camper to identify foods that are healthier for a growing child's needs.
  • Physical activity professionals assist the camper in performing and highlighting ways that physical activity can be increased during the normal day, with the importance of why physical activity must be maintained for a healthy lifestyle.
  • Behavioral health professionals speak with and help the campers understand the underlying emotions and daily stress that can lead to future obesity and diabetes.

In addition to this, medical officers such as Registered Nurses, Physician Assistants and Medical Doctors who are at camp during the entire week and serve as mentors and role models help the camper tie all aspects of diabetes prevention together using a comprehensive and age appropriate platform. 

As NYPD has grown over the years, so has the educational opportunities. Campers also receive nightly readings of the Eagle Adventure books, information on the dangers of commerecial tobacco use, the importance of dental care, how to address bullying issues and the risks of sugar sweetened beverages to name only a few.

NYPD History Timeline

In September of 2001, the leaders and health care providers of the Absentee Shawnee Tribe, Citizen Potawatomi Nation, Iowa Nation, Kickapoo Tribe of Oklahoma and the Sac & Fox Nation called for a meeting to discuss issues related to patients with Diabetes and explore methods to decrease the overwhelming prevalence of Type 2 Diabetes in their tribal member populations. Through thoughtful discussions, the prevention of Diabetes through increasing education on the importance of healthy lifestyle choices was determined to be the primary focus of this group.

Understanding that healthy children have a greater opportunity to grow into healthy adults, and that healthy lifelong habits are learned during childhood, a Diabetes prevention program that focused its efforts on the importance of Nutrition, Physical Activity, Diabetes Prevention and Behavioral Health for American Indian children aged 8-12 was developed. That program was to be called Native Youth Preventing Diabetes (NYPD).

In the summer of 2002, the Native Youth Preventing Diabetes coalition held its first camp. Each summer NYPD has held a program for the Native youth of Oklahoma, and has expanded to offer virtual lessons throughout the year on its Facebook page. Over 2500 children have attended NYPD’s residential camp and the coalition has grown substantially to include many of Oklahoma’s 38 federally recognized tribes throughout the state.

NYPD continually applies for grants and donations to offset the cost of children to attend the NYPD camp. These efforts allow for children to attend at very low or no-cost for the week-long program. All tribes and organzations that provide educators and health providers, do so exclusively as a donation of time and effort for the hope of a healthy future of our American Indian youth and tribal communities. Without these volunteers, NYPD would cease to exist.