MISSOULA — The Youth Center through All Nations Health Center (ANHC) officially opened on Thursday, September 8.
All Nations Behavioral Health oversees the Missoula Native Connections program, which focuses on suicide and substance abuse prevention, as well as abuse prevention. The program offers awareness and education activities.
In 2019, ANHC received a Native Connections Suicide Prevention Grant. “Belonging” is one of the themes they intended to encourage, according to ANHC Missoula Native Connections program director Ann Douglas. “In a large community, you may not meet another Indigenous student very often, and ideally that institution can bring together the local Indigenous youth.”
Missoula’s Indigenous youth can sometimes feel like a minority, which is why ANHC has worked to give Indigenous youth a space to come together and be themselves in the company of other Indigenous youth, according to Douglas.
A good number of people attended the inauguration, and ANHC staff were delighted to see that many families came and went to learn more about the youth and community program.
Secondary students will attend and participate in Youth Advisory Council meetings every Tuesday. This involves youth coming together to brainstorm event ideas that will engage and empower Indigenous youth in their community.
Additionally, high school students will participate in YELL, a program that explores social justice and creating change. They will explore and learn how they can bring or be change in their community, as well as discuss social justice concerns.
On Wednesdays, Indigenous students at the college will participate in activities led by Project Venture, an outdoor recreation program for college students that focuses on building strength and connecting with nature, culture, peers and the community.
Once a month, the children get together for recreational activities like hiking, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.
Middle school students spend their Wednesdays playing games or participating in activities that teach them various beneficial skills they can use in their daily lives, such as effective communication, relationships, community building, help-seeking , emotional well-being, risk taking. , nutrition, and more.
Indigenous values, culture, family, community and environment are integrated into every lesson plan taught to youth.
Twenty children in each age group are needed, and the ANHC already has 15 registered students.
As this is the first time they have been able to provide space for Indigenous youth, Faith Price, ANHC’s Community Prevention Coordinator, says they are looking forward to what this year has in store for them.
According to Price, CSKT representatives contacted the ANHC about the program they employ for Project Venture.
It’s not only a place where young people can learn, have fun and enjoy themselves, but it’s also a place where they can meet other adults in their lives who they can trust. A young aboriginal woman was able to express and talk about her overwhelming anxiety which increased throughout the vernissage. An ANHC staff member addressed this girl by name and listened to her talk about her anxiety. The staff’s particular concern for young people and their commitment to providing help were evident.
The Native youth have already planned some exciting initiatives, including a Halloween celebration and the construction of a float for the University of Montana Homecoming Parade on September 24.