Earlier this month, Let’s Move! in Indian Country (LMIC) celebrated its third anniversary at the Pueblo of Zuni in New Mexico. The Pueblo of Zuni exemplifies a community-driven effort to prevent childhood obesity by implementing innovative programming that is firmly based on their traditions and culture. The Zuni commitment to improving the health of youth and families is also evidenced by their partnerships with the IHS, Nike N7 Fund, and the Notah Begay III Foundation.
Our IHS group was welcomed by Governor Quetawki, the Zuni community, and Traditional Zuni Youth Dancers who performed a beautiful Butterfly Dance. We visited the Zuni Youth Enrichment Program Summer Campers, who were playing games, gardening, and learning about how healthy eating and exercise make us all strong. We also visited the Zuni Comprehensive Health Center, saw firsthand how they are actively promoting breastfeeding, and helped celebrate their recent national designation as a Baby-Friendly Hospital. We closed the day at the Zuni Wellness Center with a Kids Zumba class.
Let's Move! in Indian Country, launched in 2011 on the Menominee Reservation in Wisconsin, has established numerous tribal, federal, state, non-profit, and private collaborations to address childhood obesity prevention. LMIC seeks to share the wide range of resources provided by these successful partnerships and to also provide examples of innovative and successful tribal programs that are building on traditional community strengths to address the health crisis facing Native youth. Through the power of these successful partnerships, progress is being made. Thousands of Native American youth are participating in innovative community-based nutrition, physical activity, and weight management programs across Indian Country. These programs emphasize and promote culturally-based activities, such as participation in traditional games and growing and preparing traditional foods.
Dr. Yvette Roubideaux is the Acting Director of the Indian Health Service at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.