Bureau of Indian Education- Summer Learning Institute 2012
Recently, I had the privilege to participate in the Bureau of Indian Education’s Summer Learning Institute in Denver, Colorado, which brought together a record setting 2,100 school principals, teachers, members of school advisory boards, and other organizations from across Indian Country to participate in the annual event focusing on the improvement of American Indian and Alaskan Native education. In celebration of the one year anniversary of Let’s Move! in Indian Country, this year’s conference had a strong emphasis on health and wellness.A special message from the First Lady congratulated the efforts of a successful first year of her initiative, reemphasized the issue of childhood obesity in Indian Country and set the tone for a conference filled with opportunities to develop healthy lifestyles for those in attendance and more importantly, their students back home.
Throughout the conference, Let’s Move! in Indian Country representatives held breakout sessions to discuss the resources and partnership opportunities available to schools looking to increase their capacity for physical activity and healthy nutrition. Along with the Department of Transportation’s program Safe Routes to Schools, US Lacrosse’s equipment grant program, and the Alliance for a Healthier Generation’s resources to help implement BIE’s new Health and Wellness Policy, many organizations provided participants a new understanding of the opportunities available to provide healthier learning environments for their students.
Attendees of the conference also literally “walked the walk” when it came to fitness. Over 200 people braved the high altitude to participate in a 5K Fun Run which was sponsored by Haskell Indian Nations University. Runners received LMIC t-shirts, donated by Nike N7. Messages from N7 Ambassadors Sam Bradford and Tahnee Robinson also helped encourage physical activity during the conference. Other morning fitness sessions included yoga classes, jump-rope sessions, and an opportunity to learn the Beyonce “Move Your Body” dance.
Among LMIC presenters was Let’s Move! Champion of Change recipient, Christopher West, who demonstrated that physical activity could be incorporated into other curriculums like math, science, and reading, while providing the evidence that fitness can improve students’ aptitude as well.
The BIE Summer Institute was a huge success and LMIC is excited to work with these schools in the future! If you are interested in the resources available to promote healthier lifestyles within your community, please visit LMIC’s website, www.letsmove.gov/indiancountry,for information about partnerships, the Presidential Active Lifestyle Award challenge, and traditional, healthy Native American recipes.