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‘American Indian Youth Wellness Camp’ Seeking Support to Promote Healthy Lifestyles

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

The University of Arizona Department of Family and Community Medicine’s American Indian Youth Wellness Camp offers a unique experience for American Indian children from tribes throughout Arizona.

During June 16-21, about 50 American Indian youth will attend this year’s Youth Wellness Camp at Camp Wamatochick in Prescott National Forest. While there, they will learn about healthy eating habits, how to make exercise fun and the importance of a healthy lifestyle.

“Our camp integrates American Indian values and culture and this reinforces a holistic view of health,” said Francine Gachupin, PhD, MPH, associate professor, UA Department of Family and Community Medicine and the camp’s director. “The camp is an opportunity to honor our traditions and promote health.”

Fundraising for the 2019 wellness camp recently began and tax-deductible contributions can be made on the camp’s Crowdfunding page.

Now in its 28thyear, hundreds of American Indian youth have had the opportunity to attend this residential summer camp. The American Indian Youth Wellness Camp generates no income from participants and relies on donations for support.

“Donations from individuals and organizations provide a life-changing experience for our young participants,” Dr. Gachupin said.

For this year’s fundraising campaign, Dr. Gachupin and her team produced a video that highlights how the Youth Wellness Camp benefits and empowers American Indian youth to choose a healthy lifestyle.

“We are grateful for donations in any amount,” Dr. Gachupin said. “We are especially thankful for recent gifts from Desert Diamond Casinos & Entertainment, the Tohono O’odham Nation and others, and are confident we will reach our 2019 fundraising goal.”

American Indian youth have the highest rates of obesity of all U.S. ethnic groups, so they are at a high risk for obesity-driven diseases like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke and cancer.

“Through activities like traditional native games, Zumba, Tai Chi, dance, swimming, arts and crafts and learning about healthy eating habits and nutrition, our campers often have a life-transforming experience as they incorporate what they learn at camp and apply it to their daily lives once back at home,” Dr. Gachupin said. “Campers also learn mind-body skills to help them build resiliency, regulate emotions and manage stress.”

In addition, participants receive in-depth physical assessments to track their progress and personalize a health plan. After camp ends, participants’ progress is monitored through personal check-ins that support both the children and their parents—which is especially important, since the parents’ habits and actions invariably impact their children’s health.

The American Indian Youth Camp collaborates with the UA Department of Psychiatry, the UA Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health and the UA Department of Nutritional Sciences. The Department of Psychiatry develops the camp’s mind-body medicine session, and the College of Public Health and Department of Nutritional Sciences develop the post-camp’s nutrition education, which they present at follow-up sessions.

To learn more, or donate to the 2019 American Indian Youth Wellness Camp: https://crowdfund.arizona.edu/project/14487

About the UA Department of Family and Community Medicine

The UA Department of Family and Community Medicine at the UA College of Medicine – Tucson is one of the top-ranking family medicine programs in the country. The department is known for outstanding pre- and post-doctoral education, groundbreaking research and innovative community outreach programs designed to improve the health of individuals, families and communities in the region and beyond. The department places strong emphasis on research, particularly in the fields of tobacco cessation, substance abuse, obesity and related diseases, cancer survivorship, behavioral health and disabilities, and Native American and Latino health.

About the University of Arizona Health Sciences

The University of Arizona Health Sciences is the statewide leader in biomedical research and health professions training. The UA Health Sciences includes the UA Colleges of Medicine (Phoenix and Tucson), Nursing, Pharmacy and Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, with main campus locations in Tucson and the growing Phoenix Biomedical Campus in downtown Phoenix. From these vantage points, the UA Health Sciences reaches across the state of Arizona and the greater Southwest to provide cutting-edge health education, research, patient care and community outreach services. A major economic engine, the UA Health Sciences employs approximately 4,000 people, has approximately 800 faculty members and garners more than $140 million in research grants and contracts annually. For more information: uahs.arizona.edu (Follow us: Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | LinkedIn | Instagram)

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