After-school Healthy Living Classes

After-School Healthy Living Classes

Awardee: Pueblo of Acoma Health and Wellness Program 
Location: Acoma, NM

About Pueblo of Acoma Health and Wellness Program

The Pueblo of Acoma tribe is located in rural, northwestern New Mexico and has maintained its ancestral cultural beliefs, practices, and Keres language. 

About the Project

Project Goal:

To increase physical activity through after school programming and promote healthy eating by providing health education focused on lifestyle classes and basic cooking sessions for children and youth ages 5 – 18 years old. By empowering the youth with life skills, positive role models, and health education we intend to improve their mental health also.

“Our culture is strong by oral teachings so we’re told that the Creator provided us with ears to listen, our eyes to see, and our mouths to sing, speak, and eat foods that will make us strong both physically and spiritually.” 

Project Perceptions

  • Parents want their children to be involved but the kids are involved with other sports
  • Parents notice the positive change in their children

Adapting the CDC Winnable Battles to Our Nation's Needs 

  • Provide traditional games with historical stories related to tribal traditions and culture
  • Implement culturally tailored curriculum (i.e. Physical Activity Kit (PAK) 

When we made our traditional dishes with the youth, we shared stories of our ancestors and how we can continue to make our community healthy and strong. We explain to the youth that they are the future if they don’t learn to be strong and healthy what will happen to our community when they become adults. We also used our Keres language during different games and as we prepared healthy snacks.

Our Impact on the Community

  • Community Involvement
    • Parents/Grandparents became more aware of their health alongside with the children
    • Parents were encouraged to start walking.
    • The youth reported they had fun playing games and building new friendships with other children.
  • After-School Healthy Living Classes
    • Physical activity sessions for youth were held 3 times a week with one day of nutrition education
    • The children loved making new snacks with healthy fruits and vegetables and taking them home to share with their families
    • We had gym time allotted to our youth
    • Ended the program with a 2-day camping trip
  • Plant Variety/Education
    • Parents noticed their children were playing outside more and less interested in TV or video games, and they were willing to eat healthier by eating more vegetables or drinking less soda and more water.

Lessons Learned through Implementing this Program

  • There will always be challenges, be we are a group of people, Native people, who will never give up.
  • Be patient and take a deep breath.
  • Listen to the voices of others and learn to accept the challenges and move forward.
  • Making physical activity more fun by using games, and involving the entire family in preparing healthy snacks and during health education sessions
  • If you strongly believe in what your heart is set out to do then it can be done
  • Never give in or give up
  • Listen to our elders for they have words of wisdom
  • Our children can be our role models for others in the community