BRUSHY, OK On March 5, Olympic gold medalist Billy Mills
announced that Cherokee Nation citizen Breanna Potter was a recipient
of a $10,000 Dreamstarter grant.
This is the first class of American Indian youths to receive
the grants for projects that help them bring their dreams to life.
Each of the 10 Dreamstarter recipients, who are all
American Indian youth under age 30, will work together with a community
nonprofit to increase wellness supported by Running Strong for American
Potters dream is to work with local youths to educate
their rural community about diabetes prevention and healthy eating.
Her project will locally address the epidemic of diabetes and poor
nutrition that many Native communities face. It would also teach
the Native youth team members leadership skills, training in public
speaking and promotion and organizing to help them follow their
Weve been working on this for so many months, and
we poured a lot of our hearts into this, so it means a lot to us
that we got selected, Potter said.
She said that in her application she had to explain what her
project was for her community group, which is the Brushy Cherokee
Action Association in Sequoyah County. Her application also had
to explain how she wanted to use the funding, a detailed timeline
and a detailed budget for how the money would be spent.
Her project has two parts. The first is to establish a youth
leadership team using Cherokee youths living in Brushy who demonstrate
leadership qualities and do well in school who will likely be future
Were going to take them and try to give them some
life skills, teach them to make some good choices now, teach them
things like building a resume, Potter said. And then
those students are actually going to create a diabetes prevention
program, which is the second part of our program. Theyre going
to educate the Native community about what diabetes is and how they
Potter said one reason she chose to tackle diabetes prevention
is because her mother lives with type I diabetes, although about
90 percent of Native people who have diabetes have type II diabetes.
We want people to know in some cases its preventable
(type II diabetes), and we want people to know that in making healthy
lifestyle choices such as healthy eating and being active, things
of that nature, theyre able to help prevent it, she
Potter said she is paying forward the help she received from
adults in her community who mentored her in high school and encouraged
her to attend college. She said they told her she could accomplish
things and she could be a role model to other people.
That made such a difference in my life. I remember seeing
so many youth my own age that had all the potential in the world
but didnt have anybody there the help them, she said.
Im very thankful to Vickie Owens. Shes been the
mentor in this project. Shes poured in a lot of time and energy
and a lot of herself. And a big thank you goes to the Brushy community
and the Brushy Cherokee Action Association for all that they have
done and offered up to the program.
Potter is a senior at Northeastern State University in Tahlequah
majoring in special education. She said she eventually wants to
work in a high-Native population and teach in a junior high or high
Potter said she hopes to get her project going in July and that
she and others are doing prep work for it.
Im so inspired by our first class of Dreamstarters,
said Mills. The Dreamstarter program is one more
step towards overcoming the poverty of dreams among so many Native
young people. The Dreamstarters come from communities
and tribes all over the country. They are bound together by the
idea that, despite the challenges, their dreams can guide them to
build a strong future for themselves and for their communities.
I look forward to working with each Dreamstarter over
the next year, to helping them grow into leaders, and to watching
their dreams come to life.
Running Strong will give away fifty $10,000 Dreamstarter
grants over the next five years to support Native youths dreams.
At the end of the grant period, Running Strong will choose five
projects to be eligible for an additional $50,000 grant. Each year,
grants are awarded to projects around a unifying theme. The 2015-16
theme is wellness.
For more information, visit http://indianyouth.org/2015Dreamstarters.