St. Joseph’s Rec Center to Receive Renovation, Expansion

The Recreation Center at St. Joseph’s Indian School is about to get a makeover nearly 50 years in the making.

So much good takes place in the St. Joseph’s Indian School Rec Center every day. Whether it’s through organized athletics, a dip in the pool or a workout session in the weight room, Native American children and young adults are learning the importance of movement.

But, the building in its current state can only allow for so much. The existing facility was constructed in 1974, almost 50 years ago. A nearly half-century old building means there are many shortcomings. In fact, the list of shortcomings is becoming longer than the list of positives.

100% of students use the Rec Center and its services at St. Joseph’s Indian School.

There are nearly 200 students living and learning at St. Joseph’s. When surveyed, 60% said there were times they would have liked to use the gym, but could not because it was full.

That’s six out of 10 missed opportunities. Six out of 10 attempts
made by students to move their bodies, but could not. There is a lack of gym and storage space. Some areas also do not meet the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements. Therefore, it’s time to renovate and expand.

The basketball court is a gathering space for not only basketball games, but other extracurriculars and guests with a skill to teach our students.

Planning is in the works and ground will be broken April 13 to not only take this 1970s building into the present, but also the future. The new addition will include a second gym to allow for more organized activities and open gym spaces for students of varying ages. The new addition will more seamlessly accommodate gymnastics, wrestling, archery and cheer, while volleyball and basketball can take place in the current gym. It will include separate offices, restrooms, a multi-purpose room and exercise spaces for students and staff. All of this and more while meeting ADA requirements.

Over the years, it’s true to say this building was pieced together. Well, now it’s time to make sense of the puzzle. Our students are counting on us and you.

Students like Louie, an alumnus who said, “Basketball is basically what got me to finish school. I stuck through it and it was what kept me going — especially after my parents passed.”

Archery is currently held in the school gym, which shares space with a multitude of other purposes.

Or students like ShyAnne, who said, “Some of us are really competitive [in archery]. We want to get better. Sometimes it just feels a little too cramped to really get a good practice.”

And then there are stories like Zeke’s. Stories that would not be possible without the programs offered at St. Joseph’s that accommodate kids of all abilities.

“St. Joseph’s helped me do something I really like and be out there with my friends,” said Zeke, who was born with a spinal condition that impacts the way he is able to play basketball. “It felt good to be a part of the team.”

Some kids don’t always find their true passion in the classroom. Sometimes they first find it on the court, in the gym or in the swimming pool. Although viewed as extra-curricular buildings, places like the Rec Center can be what keeps kids centered. It makes them a part of a team. It creates spaces to channel their feelings into movement positively.

The new addition will include a second basketball court, making it easier for more students to enjoy active play at once.

On the surface, it may look like students are just exercising, but so much more is happening beneath the surface. The most important changes — the ones you can’t see happening — they take with them into other areas of their lives.

If you would like to be involved with making this renovation and expansion to the Rec Center a reality, please visit, or contact Denise Hyland at 1-800-584-9200 or God bless you for your generosity!

Author: St. Joseph's Indian School

At St. Joseph's Indian School, our privately-funded programs for Lakota (Sioux) children in need have evolved over 90 years of family partnership, experience and education. Because of generous friends who share tax-deductible donations, Native American youth receive a safe, stable home life; individual counseling and guidance; carefully planned curriculum based on Lakota culture and individual student needs and tools to help build confidence, boost self-esteem and improve cultural awareness. All of this helps children to live a bright, productive, possibility-filled future.

4 thoughts on “St. Joseph’s Rec Center to Receive Renovation, Expansion”

  1. I am happy about the new gym being built. I was also pleased that the stable was built. However I am a bit confused about the money being spent on these projects when there is still a request for basic necessities like
    clothes for the students??? I see in one photo at the gym where the girls have on special outfits for tumbling….
    There could be different funds but I feel essential clothing would be a #1 priority…..

    1. Thank you for your question that was prompted from the information we shared about our Rec Center renovation.

      Meeting the basic needs of the Lakota (Sioux) students at St. Joseph’s Indian School will always take precedent in our hearts and minds. Through the generosity of friends like you, we provide an education, healthcare, food, safe homes and more to each child at our school. These are ongoing expenses that will always be a priority.

      However, our campus is nearing its 100-year anniversary. While some areas of our school have stood the test of time, in recent years we’ve found that upgrades to specific programs and infrastructure have been necessary to make sure we’re providing top-notch care to Native American children and families. Funds to cover building renovations and construction are not taken from the same accounts we use to provide for the basic needs of our students. Therefore, we must fundraise as an extra ask in order to make big infrastructural changes like this.

      One hundred percent of students use the Rec Center. A lot of planning and thought has gone into this Rec Center renovation and expansion project. While we understand this ask comes not long after the construction of our Equine Therapy Center, it’s a testament to the growth and program development we are reaching for at St. Joseph’s. It’s our hope that, after the Rec Center is completed in a few years, that we will not have another large project for quite some time.
      We thank you for your generosity to help provide for the Lakota children at St. Joseph’s Indian School.

      1. I appreciate the reply, however I don’t believe my question was answered….I have not been aware of any particular fund raising effort directed to the large projects…..I am aware of requests for basic student needs. I feel my monthly pledge would be going for the basic needs. Are there donors who are able to be called on for large sums needed for the large projects?? I hope some day I would be able to contribute more…
        Dianne Graham

        1. Most of the time we are fundraising for basic needs and that’s likely what your familiar seeing. A direct mail appeal was sent to donors and we also are in the midst of an email campaign to fundraise for this large Rec Center project. Wea re unable to lookup your account by just your name. If you would like to inquire about what you’re scheduled to receive in the mail, or possibly change your mail settings, please call our Mission Advocacy Center at 1-800-341-2235. Thank you for your interest, Dianne!

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