St. Joseph’s Annual Sobriety Walk

The Lakota students danced along with the drummers.
The Lakota students really got moving when the drummers performed “YMCA.”

St. Joseph’s Substance Abuse Prevention Committee (SAPC) sponsored our annual Spring Sobriety Celebration on the afternoon of April 26. Sheltered Reality, a choreographed drumming group, kicked off the celebration by entertaining our Native American students, their families and St. Joseph’s staff.

Native American families joined their students for St. Joseph’s Sobriety Walk.
St. Joseph’s students, their families and staff get ready to begin the Sobriety Walk.

Sheltered Reality (SR) has dedicated itself to being a youth-oriented project since 1996. Youth members in SR use music and education to reach out to audiences, motivating them to advocate for those in need, especially children and families. SR shared their Steps of Success to teach personal empowerment and character building. The Steps are:

  1. Take a Chance!
  2. Be Willing to Do Whatever it Takes!
  3. Never Give Up!
  4. Believe in Yourself!
  5. Be a Friend and Empower Others to Succeed!

SR demonstrated these steps by pulling students (and even a few staff members!) from the audience and teaching them various drumming routines. In just a short time, students and staff were taking what they learned and working with members of SR to perform some impressive music!

Older Lakota students served as leaders for each of the four walking groups.
Selena, Daryl and Ashley lead the group back to St. Joseph’s Campus.

Following the SR performance, everyone took a stand against drugs by walking in our 18th Annual Sobriety Walk. We were blessed with a perfect spring day!

The Lakota students, their families and staff left St. Joseph’s Indian School and headed downtown Chamberlain, where they split into four groups, representing each of the Four Directions.

Sheltered Reality, a choreographed drumming group, performed during St. Joseph’s 18th Annual Spring Sobriety Celebration.
Sheltered Reality chose students and staff from the audience to drum a few numbers with them.

High on Life!

Fr. Steve helped the Lakota students at the prize table during St. Joseph’s Sobriety Carnival.
Fr. Steve helps a student pick out her prizes during the carnival.

On February 8, the Substance Abuse Prevention Committee (SAPC) sponsored a Valentine’s Carnival and Dance for the Lakota students at St. Joseph’s Indian School.

The carnival included lots of fun games like bowling, horseshoes, musical squares and many more for the students in grades 1-5. The kids earned prizes by playing games. Everyone had fun, including the staff and older students who volunteered their time to help run the games and prize tables.

The Native American children played all kinds of games at St. Joseph’s annual Sobriety Carnival!
Sam aims for the can while playing the bozo game during the carnival.

Later in the evening, our older Native American students (grades 6-12) got to show off their cool moves during a dance. Chris, a senior at St. Joseph’s, was the DJ. He did a great job and was able to get most of our students out on the dance floor – not an easy task!

A Sobriety Poster Contest was also held in which our high school students were the judges. Ambrose Home (1st–3rd grade boys) took first place, second place went to William Home (4th-5th grade girls) and Speyer Home (6th-8th grade boys) won third place.

Ambrose Home took first place in the Sobriety Poster Contest with their ‘We will walk through life drug-free’ poster.Besides helping beat the winter blues, the Valentine’s Carnival and Dance shows our kids how to have fun without using drugs and alcohol.

The poster contest for the Sobriety Carnival offered inspiring messages for living drug free.
Ambrose Home took first place in the Sobriety Poster Contest with their ‘We will walk through life drug-free’ poster.

We are teaching them to get high on life and to find pleasure in the simple things!

Guest Blogger: Chris B.

Our Student Leadership Committee decorated campus with red ribbons during Red Ribbon Week.
Our Student Leadership Committee decorated campus with red ribbons during Red Ribbon Week.

St. Joseph’s students and staff observed Red Ribbon Week (RRW) during the fourth week in October. Many of our students have been exposed to drug and alcohol abuse, so RRW is an important opportunity to educate and remind students of the negative effects drug and alcohol use can have on their lives.

RRW is the largest drug prevention campaign in our country. It originated because of DEA Special Agent Enrique Camarena – he was kidnapped, tortured and brutally murdered in 1985 by Mexican drug traffickers in Guadalajara, Mexico.

Camarena was on the trail of Mexico’s biggest marijuana and cocaine traffickers, and was close to busting a multi-billion dollar drug pipeline. The first RRW was held in 1988 so young people and communities could pledge to be drug-free and pay tribute to Camarena.

Grace tries to make a basket on the Extreme Sports Challenge during the inflatable party.
Grace tries to make a basket on the Extreme Sports Challenge during the inflatable party.

St. Joseph’s Substance Abuse Prevention Committee plans fun and educational RRW activities every year for our students. We started the week off by having an inflatable party at our rec center which is always a big hit for everyone!

On Monday, students and staff dressed to the theme “Follow Your Dreams, Don’t do Drugs!” by wearing pajamas. It was a cozy, comfy way to start the week!

On Wednesday, we wore shirts with Gandhi’s quote

“Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

We are planning to wear these shirts again during our Spring Sobriety Walk in April. We ‘elected’ to be drug-free on Friday by wearing red, white and blue.

Third grade students enjoy the school day in their pajamas.
Third grade students enjoy the school day in their pajamas.

All the homes enjoyed competing in drug and alcohol trivia contests over the intercom after school. Prizes were given to the home that called first with the correct answers. The Ambrose Home won the first two contests, but they failed to make a clean sweep when the Raphael Home won the final contest.

We tried something different this year by holding Red Ribbon Relays, which were partially planned and organized by our High School Leadership Committee.

The homes competed against each other in relay races, a potato sack race and a three-legged race, and they used red ribbons as batons. Students painted their faces blue before the races because they pledged to say “NO” to drugs until they are blue in the face!

Everyone enjoyed an ice cream sundae bar after the races, so the evening had a ‘sweet’ ending.

RRW activities are possible because of your generosity. Pilamaya – thank you so much for everything you do to support these amazing children!

Guest Blogger: Chris B.

Native American students race each other on the bungee run during Red Ribbon Week.
Danni and Tashia race each other on the bungee run during Red Ribbon Week.

My name is Chris and I am the Drug and Alcohol Prevention Coordinator at St. Joseph’s Indian School. I feel so blessed to work with such a great group of kids! The staff here is pretty amazing, too. St. Joseph’s is like a close-knit family – everyone is always willing to pitch in and lend a hand where needed. No matter what kind of work employees do here, everyone is working towards the same goals – to love and care for these children, make them feel like they belong at St. Joseph’s and to foster good relationships with their families so their stay away from home is a positive experience for both the kids and their families.

I facilitate Red Path groups for our fourth through eighth grade students. Red Path is a support group for children who come from homes where substance abuse is an issue. The majority of our kids have been exposed to drug or alcohol abuse, so there is a great need for understanding addiction and how it affects family dynamics. In addition to feeling ashamed and having trust issues, these kids often think they are to blame for a family member’s use. Red Path allows them to sort through their feelings and helps them realize they are not alone.

We have a Substance Abuse Prevention Committee (SAPC) that plans fun activities throughout the school year. The message during these events is clear:

  • It is cool to live a drug-free life,
  • It is important to take good care of your body and mind and
  • It’s easy to have lots of fun when you’re not under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

We are already planning some good stuff for Red Ribbon Week in October, like relays in which the homes will race against each other and an inflatable party. We’re even planning on having the kids paint their faces blue during the relays to go along with the theme,

“I’ll say NO to drugs until I’m blue in the face!”

I will spend a quarter in each of the first through eighth grade classrooms this year teaching prevention. I’m currently working with first and second graders, and we have been learning about scientists and how they find answers to their questions. We have been talking about different things scientists study like addiction and the effects drugs have on the human body.

Thanks to each and every one of you for your ongoing support; whether you support us through prayers, monetary donations or items like clothing and books, the St. Joseph’s community is humbled and grateful for your kindness!