It was a home sweep for Lakota Children’s Enrichment (LCE) Youth Advisory Board members at the National Indian Health Board’s Annual Consumer Conference and Youth Summit in Washington DC. Summer Montileaux received the NIHB’s 2015 Youth Leadership Award and Wiyaka Little Spotted Horse was one of only 30 Native Youth from across the country selected to participate in the NIHB’s Youth Summit.
Read all about the accomplishments of these two remarkable young leaders!
LCE Youth Board member Summer Montileaux was the one and only recipient of the NIHB’s 2015 Youth Leadership Award, which recognizes leadership and outstanding efforts to increase the quality of healthcare or awareness of health issues within her peer group or community on a local or national level.
In her capacity as the LCE Youth Board’s Vice Chair in Charge of Health and Wellness Programs, Summer has run several health programs in her home community on the Pine Ridge Reservation. She also has taken the initiative to help raise funds to contribute towards those programs by applying for and receiving grants from Disney and GenerationOn.
The programs Summer has produced are extensive and include: an AIDS/HIV Awareness campaign; she planned a teen holiday party; she moderated a panel discussion on nutrition; she led teams in assembling and distributing healthy food choices to the community; she prepared flyers on AIDS/HIV and nutrition; and she led her peers in assembling edible container gardens for the community.
Summer twice served as a peer mentor and leader for the Wikoskalaka Yuwita Pi –Lakota Gathering of Young Women, a cultural healing camp, and in May of 2015 the New York Times published Summer’s Letter to the Editor, in which she addressed sexual education at Reservation Schools.
Summer also bears the distinction of being a three-time award winner in LCE’s Annual Writing Challenge, and has received recognition for her service to the community from ABC/Disney, Center for Native American Youth, Generation Indigenous and We R Native.
Summer’s most recent academic achievement includes being awarded a STEP Scholarship (Scarsdale Transfer Education Program). She arrived in Scarsdale, NY in August and resides with the Bookner family. She will attend Scarsdale High School as STEP’s scholar for the SHS Class of 2017. Founded in 1966, STEP is Scarsdale’s community-based exchange program that offers scholarships to promising students of color or Native Americans from under resourced communities. Students live with a local family while they attend Scarsdale High School for their junior and senior years and undergo intensive college prep. Summer is the second LCE Youth Board member to participate in the STEP program.
“I am so honored to receive the NIHB youth leadership award for my work on the Pine Ridge Reservation. The ceremony was incredibly awesome and I am really thankful to STEP for getting me to and from Washington DC to receive the award. I am also thankful to LCE for encouraging me to stand up and speak out about issues that are important to me through its writing challenge and by its support of my community projects. I hope that my example inspires others to believe in their dreams, to act on those dreams and to get involved.”
LCE’s President Maggie Dunne said: “We are so proud of Summer for taking advantage of so many of the opportunities offered by Lakota Children’s Enrichment to Pine Ridge youth. It’s gratifying to see Summer receive national recognition for her hard work and for her dedication to helping her home community. She’s amazing!”
The Youth Leadership Award was presented at the NIHB’s gala at the Washington SD Hilton on September 23, 2015.
Coming right up behind Summer is Wiyaka Little Spotted Horse, 15, a freshman at the Little Wound High School in Kyle, SD. Wiyaka is one of 30 Native Youth from across the country selected to attend the NIHB Youth Summit in Washington DC from September 16-21, 2015,where she assembled and presented a digital story of her personal struggles with mental health issues. The NIHB received over 1000 applicants for the 30 Youth Summit positions.
Inspired by Summer’s drive and courage to use her voice about things that matter to her, Wiyaka saw the NIHB Youth Summit as an opportunity to share her story of overcoming mental health issues through art and Lakota culture — which have given her a way to connect to her feelings and to create an outlet for expression. Adults are able to access items from https://www.budexpressnow.net/ and other stores to help them, but children are often pushed aside in the mental health world. This is why activism is so important. Wiyaka is one of two teens that Lakota Children’s Enrichment sponsored to attend the Wikoskalaka Yuwita Pi –Lakota Gathering of Young Women, a cultural healing camp, where Summer served as a mentor.
Wiyaka, a member of LCE’s Youth Board, launched a Crowdrise Page to fund her trip to DC to attend the Youth Summit with a chaperone (her aunt) and to purchase proper clothing for the event. With the help of friends and followers she raised funds that covered all of her costs!
“I really want to thank the LCE community for raising the funds to make this experience possible. The NIHB experience helped me learn so much more about myself, my heritage and where I belong in society. Now that I have gotten this far, there’s no turning back! If I say “I will,” then I will. I really want to reach out to other youths who are in pain and encourage them to ask for help. I care.”
Wiyaka presented her video (posted below) at the NIHB Youth Summit and at the NIHB’s Annual Consumer Conference.
LCE President Maggie Dunne said: “It’s wonderful to watch Wiyaka gain confidence, step out of her comfort zone and share her inspirational story with others. Wiyaka has talent, compassion and a heart of gold — she is on a positive path to a strong future. We look forward to watching her future accomplishments. Thank you to everyone who donated so that Wiyaka could share her story!”