Walk to Iraq and Back
Program Type: Local Effort - Programs and/or activities that have not been evaluated but are identified by local programs as producing positive results.
This submission was collected as part of the Community Wellness Champion project.
What is the ultimate goal of your project (how do you want it to impact your community)?
The ultimate goal of the project, “Walk to Iraq and Back” is to support the Native American soldiers serving in Iraq through an emotional, spiritual, physical and social effort. This holistic project has the four areas of health embedded into the ultimate goal. This goal is based on the fact that we know our people are fighting in this war to honor our ancestors that have also served. As tribal members, and family members of these veterans, we wish to offer our support the most powerful way we know. The support for effort is not material items, not money, it is far richer than this, it is our humility and respect for our Native people’s choice to serve in the military. Therefore, by walking these miles, we walk for the balance of the soldiers and families emotions, we ask for walkers to remember and pray for them, we physically sacrifice time from our schedules daily, and we socially walk with other teams, districts, and families to reach our goal.
What do you want participants to get out of their participation in the project?
We want our participants to get that feeling of pride for our soldiers and for their health. The project serves as a dual purpose for the walkers and the soldiers. The teams and individuals are rewarded through meetings and incentives. And the soldiers are rewarded through the pride of knowing that our communities are thinking and praying for them through a physical and social activity.
What are all of your project activities or services?
Individual teams within communities walking in honor of Native American Troops in Iraq. Monthly meetings with incentives and recognition of teams and miles.
Where do the activities take place (i.e. school, church, health care facility)?
The walking takes place within the communities at their own designated areas. Some teams do individual walking and then bring their miles to their team each week, others walk as a team in areas identified in their communities. The project does not ask for set times or places, the plan is to allow teams to set this up on their own. Pedometers are provided to team members for their own tracking system throughout the week, then the team reports the team miles to the Health Administration office weekly. The Health Administration has established a data base for every team.
What is special about how you do your activities?
What makes the “Walk to Iraq and Back” special is that we allow for individualism, and do not require any team to reach a set amount of miles at a certain date, we just support the fact that teams are participating.
Who is eligible to participate in or get referred to your project?
Anybody and everybody who wants to participate is enrolled. We figure the project sends out a great message and we will accept any team who wants to participate.
How do you recruit participants? If this is a community education or outreach activity, please describe the groups that you are trying to target?
The recruitment efforts have included the Oglala Sioux Veterans Pow Wow, the Oglala Lakota Nation Pow Wow, Radio PSAs, local Newspapers, and Tribal Health meetings.
Our target population is open for all. We have team members who are babies who have raked in miles by being pushed by a stroller.
What communities have been involved in this project?
We have Pine Ridge, Martin, Porcupine, Wounded Knee, Oglala, and Kyle. We also have teams from the Rosebud Sioux Tribe.
What programs and agencies does your project partner with?
The OST Oyate Blihelya (diabetes program), The OST Health Administration, The OST Health Education, The OST Emergency Youth Shelter, The OST EAP and the Cowboys and Indians 4-H club in Wounded Knee District.
How do the partners collaborate?
The partners advocate and recruit teams and support the project through monthly meetings, incentives, P.R. and education on supporting our troops through this initiative.
How did you build these partnerships?
The partnerships are built on the fact that we all have a common goal of wanting better health care for our people emotionally, socially, spiritually and physically. The partners are programs that share this vision.
What resources are available to the community or other programs from your program?
The resources available to the community from this project include supporting one another on setting goals and achieving them, and receiving incentives such as T. Shirts, pedometers and a time to share through the monthly meetings.
In addition to the services that your project provides, do you also provide other resources for individuals or communities—examples include social marketing, education, outreach, and/or consultation?
Yes, we have had individuals that have recently been diagnosed with diabetes that have used this project to initiate a new life style. Also the awareness of how many of our tribal members are serving in the war has been educational to our people.
Where does the funding come from to support your program?
The funding again is a collaborative effort from the programs that have set aside small amounts of funds for community wellness. The leadership and coordination has been volunteer from community members.
How long has this project been going on?
The project started in June 2007, so three months.
How did this project get started?
A family member of a solider shared with the OST Health Administration the efforts of a base doing a similar project. From there we (the OST Programs) decided we should do a project to support our Native American Veterans.
What are some accomplishments of success that were achieved with this project?
The response from the community wanting to support our Native American troops, but not knowing how to do this. And the number of teams, and ages of individuals has been enlightening.
What were some challenges on getting this project started or to keep going?
The funding of course because tribal health programs have such small budgets, therefore we relied on our relationships with one another to get done what was needed. We all pulled each other in by using the relationship avenue.
Your Own Perspective
Why do you think this project has been successful?
Collaboration, common goal and common cultural values as Lakota people.
What are you most proud of or excited about in terms of this project?
I am proud of the fact that we can have a successful project with just the calling of our relatives to help out and make a statement for our beliefs.
What advice would you give to someone trying to start a similar project in their own community?
The best resources for our people are within us.
Site or Location Name: