Taking care of patients as a whole, Clinic integrates to one Tulalip health system

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News 

Tulalip community members who pass by the Karen I. Health Clinic on their daily commute may have noticed recent construction occurring at the front of the building. Over the past few months, many people have seen a small, new addition being built at the clinic that will serve as a conference room to its faculty. What many may not know, however, is the entire clinic also received renovations. Unless you have recently received care at the health center, you are in for a big surprise upon stepping into the clinic.

One of the first things you may notice is how clutter-free the lobby is. Where once stood a totem pole is now a spacious open area where patients can register at one of the five new check-in stations.

“It has that beautiful longhouse look with high ceilings, made of cedar, which helps with the acoustics,” explains Tulalip Health System Administrator, Jim Steinrick. “Our focus with the lobby was to make it welcoming, warm and cleaned up. There are four new check-in areas with lighted panels that go off and on. There will be a sign that says ‘if you see a blue light come on up and we’ll take care of you’. Around the corner we also have our ADA compliant, lower counter check-in area for people with wheelchairs.”

The idea of the check-in stations came about upon a visit to the Monroe Providence Clinic. According to Tulalip Health Information Manager, Jennie Fryberg, the entire remodel initially began with a need to centralize check-ins. Prior to the renovations, patients would often become frustrated after waiting in line at the wrong check-in stations. Now patients can check-in at any of the new stations for any services at the clinic.

A few short months ago, once you were finally checked-in at the clinic, the waiting game began. The Health Clinic made changes within the facility that are sure to cut that wait time significantly, beginning with four new healing rooms for acute care.

“We separated the acute walk-in care from scheduled patients,” says Jim. “So, if someone comes in and needs to be triaged, the nurse will bring them into one of the four new healing rooms.”

“Before we were tight on rooms because the scheduled appointments took all the healing rooms,” added Jennie. “We have two new acute care doctors so we can get patients in, out and through faster so they aren’t having to wait as long.”

The new healing rooms feature state-of-the-art equipment as well as hands-free lighting and water faucets. The previous healing rooms also received a make-over with fresh paint and hardwood floors, as did the hallways. The clinic placed a referral station near the healing rooms, by the entryway to the lobby, so referral specialists can assist patients on their way out.

The health clinic has also gone paperless, converting all of their patient’s health records to electronic format in a system that is able to communicate with both the Everett Clinic and Providence. The decision helped create a lot more space during reconstruction resulting in the expansion of the clinic’s lab and dental areas. The lab received new equipment and dental received three new chairs, which will be used to prep patients before seeing the dentist.

Another space enhancer is the consolidation of the doctors and nurses workspace from individual offices to an open work area known as the hub.

“The hub will have doctors and nurses all together, so everyone’s on the same page” Jennie explains. “We did away with all the doctor’s offices. We wanted to open it up so the whole team can be together and communicate more efficiently.”

Inside the hub is a large flat screen TV that displays the clinic’s new Versus Tracking System.

“When our patients check in at the desk, they’ll receive a sensor to carry with them,” says Jim. “We’ll have a big screen where we’ll be able to tell where they are. So if they’re waiting in one place too long, we can check on them and let them know we’ll be right with them, instead of letting someone sit and wait for twenty minutes.”

During the brief wait after checking in or after receiving care, the patient can visit any of the services that are conveniently located in the lobby including Alternate Resources for Elders, Everett Optometry and two additional referral desks.

In an effort to treat the whole patient and provide wrap around care, the Health Clinic is welcoming eight new behavioral health specialists to the team. The specialist will be readily available to meet with individuals seeking mental health care.

“When we work as a team on a patient we focus on the whole body, so teeth, eyes, mind, body and spirit,” Jim explains. “We can have the specialist meet with the patients while they’re here and take care of the whole person. We’re working on destigmatizing mental health. Some people say it’s too personal, but it’s like dental.  The old adage is the mouth is part of the body, well so is the mind.”

The conference room that many saw constructed over the Fall was a much needed addition. In previous years, large meetings would often take place in the employee break room, which received a makeover as well.

“We’ve integrated to a health system now,” states Jim. “We used to be the clinic, behavioral health and recovery, and chemical dependency. Now we’re one health system and part of the same health team. I want to make sure that our Tulalip tribal members know that we’re doing this so we can provide better continuity of care, so we’re more seamless. And also that this is a good place to come and when they come here, they will get good customer service and good quality clinical care. I think there are some misconceptions out there about the care that’s given here, once people are in here, they will really see the changes we made.”

Jennie adds, “As a Tulalip health system, our whole purpose is to take care of the patient as a whole and to smoothly get people in and out easier. Its good changes that were doing and it’s to better our services. So we’re hoping to get some of our Tulalip tribal members back here to see the changes that we are making for the betterment of our community.”

Be sure to visit the newly remodeled Health Clinic and for more information please contact (360) 716-4511.

Cooking Together with Brit Reed

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

The Tulalip Diabetes Care and Prevention program is working to make Tulalip a healthier community. With diabetes prevalent in Native communities throughout the United States, many families feel a need to change their die,t but don’t know where to begin, After a day’s hard work, it’s far easier to order in or carryout than to hit the stove and whip up a meal. The Diabetes rogram knows that adjusting to a healthy diet can be an overwhelming task, therefore, the program has created a series of cooking classes, hosted twice a week at the Hibulb Cultural Center. The exciting hands-on learning experience teaches community members how to prepare healthy, diabetic friendly, easy-to-make meals.

The Diabetes program called upon Tulalip community member Brit Reed to lead the series of classes. As a member of the Choctaw Nation, Brit found her passion for cooking at a young age while assisting her aunt in the kitchen. But it wasn’t until she received an assignment while working on her Master’s Degree at Evergreen State College, that she revisited her passion. For her assignment, she created the Facebook group page, Food Sovereignty is Tribal Sovereignty, where members of the tribal community can discuss traditional foods and share stories and recipes with one another. Brit continued to explore traditional foods and became inspired by Native cooks, such as the Sioux Chef, to attend culinary school and enrolled at the Seattle Culinary Academy. Most recently Brit became a member of I-Collective, a non-profit organization consisting of Indigenous chefs, activists, herbalist, and seed and knowledge keepers from across the nation.

“I grew up in a family where it was really important to cook at home,” Brit explains. “My parents were really strict about us eating around a table together, every single day, and having dinner. Even though I kind of hated that as a kid, when I grew up I really grew to appreciate that; I actually think I was initially inspired by that. Later on, I started working with my auntie in Nevada, cooking for our family and our community, learning about traditional foods and the way it can help people get better mentally, physically and spiritually.

“I started researching more about traditional foods, food sovereignty and food security,” she continues. “And also our history as Native Peoples and how being separated from our traditional foods has affected our health negatively. And how coming back to those healthier foods and traditional foods has helped address things like diabetes, hypertension and all those different things that now plague our communities.”

During the Cooking Together classes, community members learn new recipes, experiment with new foods and seasonings, and also learn new techniques such as knife skills. Once the meals are prepared, students enjoy their food creations together while sharing stories and exchanging life advice. The classes are open to the entire community and frequent attendees include the Tulalip Wisdom Warriors who provide both valuable insight and loads of laughs to each class.

“The Wisdom Warriors give us good direction, they’re kind of like our elders advisory group,” says Diabetes Care and Prevention Coordinator, Veronica ‘Roni’ Leahy. “They’re invested in what we’re doing because they believe in it. We’re creating memories with the elders. While they’re at these classes they share their health issues and talk to each other about how they’ve overcome it, and that’s where the healing is.”

The classes currently take place on Saturdays and Mondays through December and will be taking a brief holiday break before returning in February of 2018. The Diabetes Program recently dedicated the Monday classes to making a variety of soups from scratch and will be donating the food to the homeless shelter as well as the Senior Center.

“It’s a good opportunity for us to learn the basics in soup-making, like how to make a good healthy stock rather than using a box,” explains Roni. “Because we’re going to be making such large quantities, instead of giving the food to people who come to event, we decided to do more outreach in the community. Even though they aren’t at the classes with us, they are in our hearts and we’re thinking of them. We want to share the food with them and share that goodness that comes from the kitchen.”

So far, the students have enjoyed many delicious dinners together including chicken wings, roasted lemon chicken and BBQ pork loin accompanied by some scrumptious sides such as beet salad, roasted Brussels sprouts and roasted squash. Future requests from the Wisdom Warriors include seafood like clam chowder, geoduck and salmon.

“We try to make foods that are healthy, but we really want to cook foods that are exciting and also happen to be healthy and colorful,” Brit states. “I think it’s important to get people familiar with different ingredients that are readily available and are healthy; and also with the techniques on how to be able to cook in the kitchen, so they feel they can be creative and they actually enjoy being in the kitchen. I definitely want to incorporate more traditional ingredients in things that we are able to easily access from the grocery stores. I would really love to hear what the community is interested in learning because I’m here to help serve the community and want to teach what they want to learn about.”

The Diabetes Program also works with Tulalip TERO to hire Tulalip tribal cooks to assist Brit during the classes.

Help Chef Brit Reed close out the year by joining her last two classes of 2017 on Saturday December 9 and Monday December 11 from 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. and be sure to keep an eye out for the upcoming Cooking Together classes slated for a fresh start in February of next year. For more information, please contact the Diabetes Prevention and Care Program at (360) 716-5642.

Traditional foods for a healthy community

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

On the evening of Wednesday November 8, the Betty J. Taylor Early Learning Academy Gym was filled with excited Tulalip community members as they eagerly waited for the Traditional Foods and Medicine for the Family class to begin. The class is the second in a series of six that is hosted by the Tulalip Diabetes Prevention and Care Program. During the course of each three-hour class, attendees learn the importance of traditional Coast Salish foods such as deer, elk, berries, tea, salmon and shellfish; and also the uses of a variety of medicinal plants. The Diabetes Program assembled an all-star team to present these teachings to the people of Tulalip.

“We were really just looking for the right educators to come work with us, teachers who have the same diabetes focus but have an alternative approach to traditional types of diabetic care,” explains Diabetes Care and Prevention Coordinator, Veronica ‘Roni’ Leahy. “We know Elise Krohn, she used to work at Northwest Indian College and she worked with the Diabetes Prevention Program. A lot of community members are familiar with Elise as well as Valarie Seacrest, they started a new company called GRuB – Garden Raised Bounty. We hired her and her team to do a series of six classes for us. They touch on diabetes, but they also touch on the traditional aspect of food and the health of those foods.”

The Diabetes Program brings in the Lushootseed Department to start each class with a traditional Tulalip song and blessing. Community members are treated to a meal catered by local tribal-member owned business, Ryan’s Rez-ipes. While preparing the meals for each class, Ryan caters the menu to the class attendees who are living with diabetes. Per Roni’s request, Ryan created three homemade salad dressings, low-sugar and diabetic friendly, which were an instant crowd favorite.

While enjoying the healthy dinner, all eyes turn to Roger Fernandez,  a storyteller from the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe. Roger is known throughout the Northwest tribal communities for providing thought provoking stories and has also been featured at Hibulb Cultural Center. During the classes, Roger shares a handful of traditional stories which emphasize the ancestral teachings in regards to the traditional Coast Salish diet.

Following the meal, attendees have the option to indulge in dessert, such as mixed berries, while the class continues with a lesson presented by the GRuB team. Participants learn about the nutritional aspect of the day’s food and compare the modern diet with the traditional diet. The Diabetes Program ends each class with an interactive cooking demonstration in which attendees put their newly acquired knowledge to use by creating a snack and/or remedy to take home, such as herbal infused beverages, pemmican, tea and herbal infused honey. In addition to the food, including leftover Ryan’s Rez-ipes and homemade snacks, the Diabetes Program also sends a select few home with gift bags.

“The giveaways are always cooking related or health food related,” says Roni. “We weave everything together, it’s our health and it’s all connected. And part of that is teaching about feeding the seven generations; learning to live with the spirit, diversifying your diet, eating more plants, traditional and wild foods, how we cook and eat with good intention and giving back to the land. They’re not aspects a western medical clinic, even in our surrounding communities, would be teaching about. That’s what makes Tulalip and Native communities so special. We have the opportunity to talk about the land, the environment and the water. It’s really worth it to bring the people together There were four generations here tonight and that’s a really good thing.”

Upcoming Traditional Foods and Medicine for the Family classes will be held December 6, 13 and 18 from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. The December 6th class is an all-day ‘train the trainer’ event where the Diabetes Program will be sharing the Traditional Foods curriculum with the teachers and instructors of the community. For more information, please contact the Diabetes Prevention and Care Program at (360) 716-5642.

QCT Elementary participates in Red Ribbon Week

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News 

In an effort to inspire eager to learn students to live a drug-free life, Quil Ceda Tulalip Elementary participated in Red Ribbon Week from October 23 to 27. This year’s theme was “Your Future Is Key, So Stay Drug Free.” Students, parents, and staff were invited to participate in daily activities to promote positive, healthy living.

Red Ribbon Week is a national campaign held during the final week of October and brings drug abuse awareness to schools. Think of it as a modern day equivalent to the D.A.R.E. program for the previous generations. It’s a program that started back in the 1980s in honor of a Drug Enforcement Administration agent, Kiki Camerena, whose goal was to educate youth on drug prevention.

“The message behind Red Ribbon Week was explained really well to our students during our daily assemblies and through in-class activities,” said Principal Douglas Shook. “The most powerful piece was the pledge that the students took with our Youth Service Advocates, Doug Salinas and Malory Simpson. The pledge of belief in one’s self and to be all that they can be to stay drug free resonates with our students when they have trusted adults reinforcing this belief. My hope is that this pledge lives, not only during Red Ribbon Week, but throughout the year.”

During the week, QCT students filled out a pledge to be drug-free that were then linked together in a unified chain put on full display at the front entrance of the Elementary. There were several in-class activities, most notably a poster making contest with the theme of staying drug-free that got the participation of all classes. Class winners were celebrated with an Italian soda party.

Students were most excited to participate in the themed dress up days. One day they looked to the future while wearing the colors of their favorite college, and on another they brought out their inner superhero to assemble in Avengers-like fashion.

“Red Ribbon Week brought drug awareness to our students. They pledged to live their life drug-free in pursuit of their goals and to make sure drugs wouldn’t be a road block to finding success in life,” explained school advocate, Doug Salinas. “As a community, we need to spread the word of drug prevention and do healthy activities in order to keep our youth safe.”

“In our community, we have kids who might see drugs and alcohol every day and think that kind of activity is normal,” adds fellow advocate, Malory Simpson. “For these students, it’s important for them to learn about drug-free living and to understand that they have the choice to make their own future. They made those drug-free pledges and it could have long-lasting meaning for them.”

At the end of the week, it’s safe to say every student at QCT received a quality lesson in what it means to live drug-free and is more aware of drugs and drug prevention than they were before. Just having the conversation itself is critical. Evidence shows that children of parents who talk to their youth regularly about drugs are 42% less likely to use drugs than those who don’t, yet only a quarter of youth report having these conversations. For QCT students, the seed has been planted.

#TMUnityMonth Promotes Kindness

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News 

Citizens of the Tulalip and Marysville community are currently celebrating the second annual Unity and Wellness Month. Each October, Tulalip Youth Services and the Marysville School District unite to bring attention to issues such as domestic violence, substance abuse, bullying and suicide. Youth Services hosts several events throughout the month to promote awareness about these issues, in a positive manner, including the Say Something Color Run, Quil Ceda Tulalip Elementary Coffee Morning and movie nights. Each week of Unity Month sheds light on serious topics; the first week focused on suicide prevention and was deemed Life is Sacred week, the second week was Healthy Relationships week which addressed domestic violence. The third week of Unity Month focused on bullying prevention.

“This past week was our Unity and Wellness Month Kindness week,” states Tulalip Youth Services Education Coordinator, Jessica Bustad. “We had a pumpkin carving night, movie night and even had a Don’t be a Monster assembly at the Marysville-Tulalip Campus for all four secondary schools. We had our five-day Kindness Challenge that we used to encourage people to put extra effort into sharing kindness and to show them how easy it can be. We had students, staff and community members going the extra mile to work on their random acts of kindness. We would like to continue the challenge to all of the youth and adults in this community.”

Youth Services kicked off the third week of Unity Month with a Family Pumpkin Carving Night. Community members gathered at the Don Hatch Youth Center on October 16, to carve and decorate jack-o-lanterns in preparation for Halloween. Dozens of families participated as over three-hundred pumpkins were sculpted into spooky designs and the youth entered their creations into a contest for a chance to win various prizes. Movie night consisted of a screening of Chicken Little, complete with pizza and popcorn.

The bullying problem continues to grow nationwide in schools, the work place and most recently online. Children who are frequently bullied can often develop depression and anxiety. According to the website, www.StopBullying.gov, twenty-eight percent of students nationwide have experienced bullying and approximately thirty percent of students have admitted to bullying their peers. Cyberbullying is on the rise. According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, cyberbullying has nearly doubled amongst ninth through twelfth grade students in the past ten years, from eighteen to thirty-four percent.

“As we all know, bullying is a serious issue across the country and even more-so now with social media,” says Jessica. “Cyberbullying has become a huge problem. Our children are exposed to so much through social media and it does impact their self-esteem. Teach your children to use social media for positive things. Monitor your children’s social media accounts. Our society has become so desensitized to acts of violence and bullying. Stand up and show the world that kindness and good people are everywhere. Raise your children to be kind to others, our earth and especially themselves. Teach your children to love and respect themselves so that they can properly love and respect others.

“Here are a few ways you can teach your child to be kind,” she continues. “Tell your child you love and care about them, share with your child what kindness is and what it means, lead by example by being kind to others and talking to your children about it. Spend quality time with your child at the dinner table or reading for 20 minutes a minutes a night. Listen to your child, ask them about school experiences and ask them about their feelings, talk to your child about bullying and what to do if they have been bullied, have seen bullying or are the bully. Let them know it is ok to reach out for help.”

For more information, please visit the Tulalip Youth Services Facebook page or contact  the department at (360) 716-4909.

Tulalip Community Celebrates First Week of Unity Month

 

 

“What’s the day without a little night?

I’m just trying to shed a little light

It can be hard, it can be so hard

But you got to live right now

You got everything to give right now”

-Logic

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention recently reported that suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the United States with an estimated 44,193 deaths by suicide per year; for every suicide there are about twenty-five attempts. In the state of Washington, suicide is the eighth leading cause of death with 1,137 suicides each year. Suicide is the first leading cause of death among the youth in this state, ages ten through fourteen; and second leading cause of death for Washingtonians ages fifteen through thirty-four. In 2015, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a report showing the highest suicide rate in the country was amongst the young adults of the Native American community. For the age group of fifteen through thirty-four, Native America reported 1.5 times more deaths annually than the national average, with 19.5 deaths per 100,000 population; however, CDC noted that those statistics may be underreported by approximately thirty percent.

As suicide and suicide attempts are escalating in Native communities, tribes continue to search for a way to reach their young members. Suicide is a topic that many are not comfortable discussing. Whether it’s because of a lost loved one or even personal attempts and thoughts, the stigma around suicide often prevents people from having an open conversation about the risks, factors, and signs; let alone the pain, anger and grief that suicide causes.

Tulalip Youth Services is well-aware of the suicide crisis as the community has been personally affected over recent years. Youth Services often holds open-forums for the young adults of the community, creating a safe space where teens can open up to their peers to speak honestly about suicide. Last year, Youth Services hosted the first annual Tulalip-Marysville Unity Month, better known as #TMUnityMonth in the social media realm, to promote awareness about issues such as bullying, domestic violence, substance abuse and suicide within the two communities. Youth Services dedicates an entire week to each of these issues during the month of October and plans events and activities based on the topic to bring awareness, resources and education to the community.

The second annual Unity Month started with Life is Sacred week, focused on suicide prevention. Four, three-step suicide prevention trainings, taught by the Tulalip Crisis Response Team, were held for the community throughout the week. Training attendees were taught how to spot warning signs and how to respond when dealing with someone who is suicidal. The three-step suicide prevention class is taught nationally and upon successful completion, students are awarded a certificate by the QPR Institute. Both the institute and the trainings are named after the three-steps in the prevention: question, persuade and refer.

Crisis Response Team member, Yvonne Ito, explains the three steps stating, “Q is the question and the question is, are you planning on harming yourself, do you plan on killing yourself? People might not want to ask that question because they might not want hear the answer and are afraid of what the response will be. P – persuade someone to get help and R is refer them to the appropriate resource.”

Yvonne addressed the class during one of the trainings, asking “if someone told you they were going to harm themselves, where would you tell them to go?”

To which a youth, who wishes to be unnamed, answered, “I would refer them to the Community Health Department and get them in touch with some counselors. Obviously there’s the suicide hotline and get them support rather than telling them what they need to do and what they can’t do. Just letting them know that they have people who want them here and will listen to them. And also that they have me, that I’m always here to talk to and that I care.”

“Does anybody happen to know the suicide hotline number?” asked Yvonne. A group of young ladies answered, nearly in unison, “1-800-273-8255” before one of their peers added “you only know that because of the song.”

This year hip-hop artist Logic released a song titled 1-800-273-8255, the national suicide number. The song itself is told from three different perspectives; someone who is contemplating suicide, a friend offering words of encouragement and someone who is reflecting on a failed suicide attempt.

The unnamed student expressed that the song is extremely important in helping reach today’s youth stating, “I think that just the song’s title alone will save a lot of lives – I hope it does. It sheds a little light on a dark subject – you don’t have to listen to the song, or even be a fan of it, to save yours, a friend or anybody’s life, you just have to know the name.”

Frustrations were expressed, feelings were confessed and many tears were shed throughout the course of the four QPR trainings. Attendees were provided with plenty of resources and are now better equipped with the knowledge of how to prevent someone from committing suicide.

“The QPR trainings are important to our community, in particular, because we as Native Americans have higher rates of suicide in our community, with this training it can help us combat that,” expressed Youth Advocate, Deyamonta Diaz. “It’s not a cure-all but it does help for regular unlicensed folks, such as many of us community members, to help prevent and even talk with someone about suicide. The trainings also help bring awareness to some education around the topic of suicide in general.

“I think the youth responded well to the QPR’s in the fact that they were able to address any feelings that they had towards the notion of suicide; and [the trainings] also empowered other youth to feel like they now know preventative measures,” he continues. “The biggest takeaway that the community learned from the sessions are that suicide is preventable by anyone, not just mental health professionals; and that if anyone is in need of help – me, you, or anyone in the community can help them out. I think we are all aware that suicide has impacted our community recently but we can tackle this issue and help heal our people.”

The community showed up in large numbers to conclude Life is Sacred week with the Say Something Color Run/Walk. Color-runners, accompanied by a Tulalip Police Department and Tulalip Fire Department escort, traveled the distance from the old Boom City site to the Don Hatch Youth Center on the evening of Saturday October, 7. Youth Service team members excitedly waited to cover runners with multi-colored powder chalk at multiple check-points. Upon reaching the finish line, runners were treated to pizza and a live DJ as community members celebrated a successful first week of Unity Month.

Exploring Healthy Boundaries With the Help of Horses

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News.  Photos courtesy of Monica Holmes

The horse was a major part of Native American history and still plays a vital role in enabling Native youth to connect to their heritage of being caretakers of Mother Earth and all her animals. A new form of spiritual healing can also be derived from individuals and their interaction with the majestic horse, called equine therapy.

Using horses in a therapeutic setting offers youth clear opportunities to learn about themselves and others in an effective way. This is why on October 6 the Girl’s Talking Circle took a trip to Cedar Groves Stables in Stanwood, WA for a fun-filled, therapeutic afternoon.

“Our trip to Cedar Groves Stables was for an ‘Exploring Healthy Boundaries’ workshop with the goal to enlighten the youth about their own inherent boundaries and the need to adjust those boundaries based on the people they encounter along their journey,” explained event coordinator and para-pro Monica Holmes. “We did many exercises individually and with one another that illustrated each person’s ability to tap into their own gut instinct to determine where they position themselves, how they behave around others, and how they may need to regulate their emotional output.”

Horse and human encounters provide opportunities for learning about relationships and further understanding about boundaries. Once the girls transitioned inside the stables and began interacting with the herd of horses, they found themselves using the personal boundary skills they just learned and adjusting to the horses’ needs.

“I learned horses sometimes feel trapped or unsafe, so they tell us to back off by moving their heads and trying to get away,” beamed 11-year-old tribal member, Tieriana McLean. “When we humans did boundary work we learned that we sometimes flinch or feel stressed or react and that means we were setting our own boundaries with others.”

Horses, much like people, are social creatures and require mutual trust and respect in order to engage in a productive relationship. If a horse is acting stubborn or defiant, then it can often be understood as a lack of engagement and thoughtfulness on the part of the person.

“I liked learning about how you need to calm yourself around the horses, so they’ll learn to trust you and won’t hurt you,” remarked 14-year-old Ariyah Guardipee (Salish Kootenai).

For the girls, making a connection with a horse required self-awareness in order to produce positive intentions, while also reading the emotional output of the horse. Once a balance has been reached, the girls were able to approach the horses and establish a bond. How much space to give a certain horse and when or if they could reciprocate attention or affection is a learned skill they showcased brilliantly.

“Rather than shying away from them or feeling overwhelmed by the horses’ size, the girls were zoned into reading the horses individually,” added Monica. “They adjusted their interactions accordingly, so the horse was on the receiving end of the time and attention it wanted and needed. Miraculously, each girl walked away with a deeper connection to the horses, each other and themselves.”

Volunteer chaperone and tribal member, Darkfeather Ancheta, jumped at the opportunity to attend the workshop with the Girls Talking Circle. She witnessed first-hand the girls learn personal boundary skills and then use them to develop bonds with the horses. “It was very powerful! The girls’ energy and moods changed instantly around the horses. To watch them react, learn, and respond the way they did was so amazing. This program can change lives for the better,” stated Darkfeather.

The connection established with these equine companions brought out the hidden inner strength and courage of each and every youth participant. Overcoming doubts and developing confidence are only a couple of supplemental results they also enjoyed from their time at the Stables.

Activities that teach skills ‘outside of the box’ are vital to programs like the Girls Talking Circle for developing healthy, well-rounded individuals and groups of youth in our community. These are experiences the youth and those adults who are privileged enough to work with them won’t soon forget.

“A Journey to a Healthier You,” Featuring Kenn Johnson

 

Kenn Johnson today, after participating in a diet and exercise program.

By AnneCherise Jensen, Tulalip Tribes SNAP-Ed Nutritionist

Kenn Johnson, member of the Colville Tribe and Tulalip Police officer for 11 ½ years, has spent the last year transforming himself into a happier and healthier version of himself. Also a member of the Tulalip Walking Club, Kenn has made a huge transformation in lifestyle change and has managed to lose an outstanding 66 pounds over the last year as a result. Kenn feels happier and healthier than he has in the last 20 years! Here is his story….

It was back in early 2016 when Kenn walked into the doctors and was told he had high blood pressure, high cholesterol, was at a very unhealthy weight, was suffering from chronic arthritis and had other serious medical conditions that put Kenn in a lot of pain and discomfort. At his heaviest weight, 287 lbs., Kenn was at the breaking point where he simply just wanted to give up on himself. This meant giving up his hobbies, his health, his dreams and his future. Kenn had tried many diet programs in the past where nothing seemed to consistently work, or consistently keep the weight off. Despite the fact, Kenn was a fighter and made the decision he wasn’t going give up. It wasn’t until a ferry ride home when Kenn ran into an old friend who had recently lost a lot of weight. On the ferry ride, they discussed the benefits of a diet and exercise program that had truly worked for her. It was a program that offered a health coach, a meal plan, and an accountability program. So on September 8th 2016, Kenn decided to take a chance and start the program.

Once starting the program, Kenn immediately changed his diet and quickly began seeing results. Kenn states, “It was the drastic change in my diet alone that helped me lose my first 40 pounds.” Kenn’s diet consisted of eating mostly whole grains, lean proteins, healthy fats, and lots of fruits and vegetables. Kenn also adds, “I put an alarm on my phone to go off every three hours. This reminded me to eat small, healthy snacks every three meals to keep my metabolism moving fast.” Other major changes Kenn made included completely cutting out high fructose corn syrup and other simple sugars out of his diet. Instead he replaced them with nutrient dense foods that kept him feeling properly fueled and energized throughout the day.

Kenn Johnson before his lifestyle change.

In early January, after receiving a Fit Bit for Christmas, Kenn also decided he wanted to become more active, so he began walking on a daily basis. Kenn’s first goal was to reach 8,000 steps a day, approximately 4 miles. He continually met his goal and made a new goal to reach 11,000 steps a day, approximately 5.5 miles. To this day, Kenn successfully averages 25-35 miles a week. “As soon as you get used to walking a lot, it’s like your body is on auto pilot and its gets easier every time,” says Kenn.

As a member of the Tulalip Walking Club, Kenn loves attending our walks and is an inspiration to other members of the club. Not only that, but he makes us all feel extra safe walking throughout the community. Thanks Kenn!

Overall, through diet and exercise Kenn claims that his quality of life has increased tremendously. His blood pressure, cholesterol and triglycerides are now at above healthy levels. He is thinner that he has ever been in the last 20 years, the pain from the arthritis is gone, and he has more energy and vitality. Kenn’s advice to anyone who wants to make a healthy lifestyle change is to JUST GO OUT AND DO IT! It’s an all-in commitment and it’s a choice. It’s not something that is going to happened over night, it’s not going to be easy, but there are so many incredible benefits to losing weight. “It was definitely worth all the pain and sweat,” Kenn states. “Not only are you losing weight, but the greatest benefits come from the unseen changes. The changes in mood, the changes in self-esteem, the medical benefits, the confidence and the courage to take on your fear. Anything seems possible now!”