grant recipient Breanna Potter of Akins, Oklahoma, speaks
with Greyson Bartlett, 14, during the leadership training
for youth to prepare them for their futures. The training
was held the last week of July at the Brushy Community Center.
(photo by Will Chavez - Senior Reporter Cherokee Phoenix)
Brushy, OK Breanna Potter is fulfilling her dream of
improving her community and surrounding Sequoyah County communities
by using a $10,000 "Dreamstarter" grant she received earlier this
She and Cindy Lattimore, Indian Capital Technology Center counselor,
met with students from the county the last week of July at the Brushy
Potter, of Akins, said the youth group is called the Brushy
Dream Team and focuses on training youths to be leaders in their
"We're really big on trying to train our kids to be able to
go out into the world and be leaders, whether that means to go out
and move away and make a difference in other Native communities
or whether it means to stay here and be community leaders or whether
they decide to be a teacher or lawyer or they want to serve as mayor
one day or maybe even serve on our Tribal Council," Potter said.
She said she has already seen the program make a difference
in the youths involved because they have become more outgoing or
opened up more to their instructors.
Morgan Robinson, 14, a 10th grader from Vian, was one of the
students from Vian, Brushy and Akins who participated in the weeklong
"Today we are learning about our personalities and more about
ourselves and finding out about what we want to do for our careers,
which I already know," Robinson said. "I want to go into marine
zoology, and on the sidelines I want to be a photographer and work
in graphic designs."
She said students also learned about applying for financial
aid for college, preparing for the ACT test, taking college preparatory
courses and gained leadership skills.
"I got a lot of information that I'm glad to have," she said.
"I know more about what to look forward to, and I've gotten a head
start I guess."
Along with learning leadership skills, the youths were given
the opportunity to create a diabetes prevention program, Potter
said. An entire day was devoted to wellness, she said, where the
students learned about the negative effects of alcohol, especially
in Native communities, and learned more about diabetes and the prevention
methods that are available.
Potter said "a good number" of the participating students either
have relatives or friends who have diabetes.
"Sequoyah County has almost twice the national average for diabetics,
and the majority of those are Type II (diabetics). We have 1,300
(diabetic patients) that get served at Redbird Health Center every
year," she said.
In April, Potter was invited to Washington, D.C., to meet with
other "Dreamstarter" youths and attend the "Dreamstarter" Academy,
where the grant recipients learned how to run their projects.
"It's a lot of responsibility. Some of the youth involved in
the program are as young as 14. They want to make sure we are well
prepared," she said.
In July, she returned to Washington for a Tribal Youth Gathering
hosted by the White House.
This is the first class of American Indian youths to receive
"Dreamstarter" grants for projects that help them bring their dreams
to life. Each of the 10 "Dreamstarter" recipients, who are all American
Indian youths under age 30, are working with a community nonprofit
on a project to increase wellness that is also supported by Running
Strong for American Indian Youth.
She said that in her "Dreamstarter" application she explained
that her "dream" or project was for her community group, the Brushy
Cherokee Action Association. Her application also explained how
she wanted to use the funding and provided a detailed timeline and
budget for how the money would be spent.
Potter, 21, is a senior at Northeastern State University in
Tahlequah majoring in special education with an emphasis in mild
to moderate disabilities. She said her goal after graduating in
May 2016 is to work in a high-Native population and teach in a junior
high or high school.
For more information about this year's "Dreamstarters" or to
learn how to help jumpstart dreams for Native youth, visit http://indianyouth.org/2015Dreamstarters.