The Native Youth Enrichment Program (NYEP) completed another awesome summer program that wrapped up on August 19, 2016. Native youth from around the Seattle area came to the UW campus for four weeks of curriculum focused on “energy.” We were excited to welcome Ceni Myles as our lead teacher and were thrilled to have Damon Cunningham and Morgan Paige as our college student mentors. Our first week explored energy in the environment and included a trip to Snoqualmie Falls and a boat trip on the Duwamish River to learn about hydro power, healthy water systems, and healthy relationships with our plant and animal relatives. It also included a visit to the UW Clean Energy Institute where we made our own solar panels to investigate solar power.
During our second week, we studied how to harness and utilize energy through the design and creation of E-textiles. Participants learned about circuits, the scientific process and basic sewing skills by incorporating LED lights into a felt panel of their own design!
In week three, we shifted our focus to look at the energy of our bodies, which included curriculum on healthy and traditional foods and medicines. Participants completed an extensive research project on their “assigned” plant which they presented to their peers. This week also included exploring fermented foods while blind-folded with IWRI presenter, Anastasia Ramey and also included a trip to Stolja Ali ethnobotanical garden where the students prepared and baked salmon with Snohomish tribal representative, Pamela Bond, and NYEP alum, Lia Andrews, who spoke to the students about perseverance and making education a priority.
During week four, NYEP focused on the energy and power of our spirit, mind and voice. Participants completed a digital story about their plant relative as well as exploring different mediums for making our voices heard. This week included making hand drums and learning Coast Salish songs and dances with Kia Karen Condos.
The NYEP staff would like to thank everyone who helped with this year’s program. Much appreciation goes to these amazing youth, their families and to all of our community partners. And of course, thank you to all the IWRI staff for your support and participation, especially Chris Charles, who provided guided meditation sessions throughout the summer! Last but not least, we are very grateful to our main funder, the City of Seattle (Families and Education Levy #DC15FE009), for making this program for our Native youth possible.