More than 30 professional athletes, including members of the NFL and the NBA, will be on hand to serve as mentors and role models for more than 300 American Indian youths at the Native Vision Sports and Life Skills Camp to be held on the Wind River Reservation in Riverton, Wyo., from June 11 to 13. Political dignitaries and leaders in business will also attend.
Native Vision Sports and Life Skills Camp was launched by the Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health, the NFL Players Association and the Nick Lowery Charitable Foundation to help American Indian youth live healthy lives, take responsibility and grow up to be successful adults. American Indian youth are the most at-risk population in the United States today, suffering high rates of depression, suicide, anxiety, substance abuse and school dropout.
The Native Vision Sports and Life Skills Camp is a part of Native Vision initiative, a year-round program that strives to deliver critical resources for healthy child development to at least 10 American Indian reservations by the end of the year 2000.
Native Vision was highlighted at the April 1997 President's Summit for America's Future, chaired by Gen. Colin Powell, as one of the country's most promising initiatives to help disadvantaged children. The Summit--attended by all the living presidents and a host of civic and business leaders--kicked off an effort, called America's Promise, to create teamwork between the public and private sectors to serve the needs of America's young people.
Mathuram Santosham, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health, said, "Rather than focus exclusively on the ills of America's youth, the Native Vision program nurtures the vast indigenous strengths within Indian country."
During the three-day camp, American Indian youth will interact with role models who previously were available only through television and magazines. Activities include ropes courses and clinics in football, soccer, basketball and volleyball.
Nick Lowery, all-pro athlete and a veteran of the White House Office for National Service, said, "We will do all in our power to shift the spotlight from the pro athletes who take part in the camps and school activities to the real heroes in the local communities, who will be lifetime mentors for the children involved."
Computer training sessions will also be held. USWEST is dispatching technical experts and mobile computer units to give all camp participants a unique Internet experience, including a visit to the Native Vision Web site designed by USWEST.
An addition to the camp this year is two community service projects organized by the Wind River community and members from the Corporation of National Service. Also, cultural events and ceremonies will be held to reinforce the American Indian culture among its youths, who spend the night in the traditional Tee Pee Village.
Native Vision Sports and Life Skills Camp also includes activities for members of the Wind River Reservation community, such as parenting and healthy start workshops.
Additional contributors to the camp and the Native Vision Program are actor Robert Redford, Kodak, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Tom Brown Inc. and Sports Illustrated.