Project DESTINY Targets Youth

Nov 15th, 2002 | By | Category: 14-2: American Indian Higher Education Consortium 30th Anniversary, Tribal College News

Kindergarten through seventh-graders found fun, science, a healthier lifestyle, and the seeds for a potential career in science or health care at Keweenaw Bay Ojibwa Community College’s (KBOCC) science program last summer in Upper Peninsula, MI.

The summer science program is part of KBOCC’s Diabetes Education and Science to Instruct Native Youth (DESTINY) project, funded by the National Institutes of Health. With other tribal college members of the Diabetes Education in Tribal Schools group, KBOCC is developing science curriculum materials based on a diabetes model for use in kindergarten through sixth grade classrooms. The DESTINY Summer Science Program incorporated pilot-testing of activities and materials that may become part of the curriculum.

For a month last summer, about 40 youths gathered for sessions that included learning about science and health, exercise, healthy snacks, crafts and projects, and culturally competent asset development. Five high school and college students led small groups, furthering their own career development while acting as role models and mentors under the supervision of college faculty. DESTINY Principal Investigator Lynn Aho acknowledged, “We’d have planned two or more sessions if we’d known so many children and parents would be interested!”

Approximately two dozen science and health professionals spoke and led activities for the program. The speakers, most of them tribal members, included nurses, nutritionists, wildland firefighters, exercise specialists, biologists, educators, and cultural teachers. Their health and science topics ranged from plant and bug identification to water testing, to many aspects of leading a healthy life, even school success and dealing with bullying. Students collected the speakers’ handouts in individual folders to serve as a family resource after the program and wrote or drew about their experiences in daily journals.

Although the guest experts were called speakers, the students didn’t spend much time sitting and listening. Instead, they felt pelts, caught and observed bugs, planted seeds, potted flowers, and used their eyes, ears, noses, and fingers to observe their environment on nature walks and a trip to the tribal fish hatchery. The daily exercise activities – walking, running, calisthenics, and games – varied widely so each student could find some fun in being physically active. They all liked games with water balloons on hot days.

At the end of the program family members were invited to a closing picnic. Each child was recognized for his or her attendance and achievements with a certificate, small gift, and a tee shirt with a design created by one of the students.

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