In the U.S. Northern Plains, ChildFund is listening to Native American children and youth and helping them arrive at solutions to bring about change in their communities.
In a recent interview with KQFR 89.9 FM in Shenandoah, Iowa, Deb Douglas, ChildFund’s Northern Plains area manager, ticked off the harsh realities that Lakota youth face: suicide, alcoholism, childhood obesity, diabetes and poverty.
“Suicide is the greatest destruction,” according to Deb, whose work with ChildFund takes her to the Cheyenne River, Rosebud and Pine Ridge reservations in South Dakota.
Also tough to witness is “children not believing they can make a difference — and they can,” Deb told KQFR’s Public Affairs Director Jenny Goodell.
ChildFund programs focus on building leaders through after-school programming that includes homework help, nutrition education and hands-on activities like gardening and quilting. In addition, ChildFund seeks to improve community resources and conducts focus groups to identify issues in need of attention. “We ask tough questions to develop good communication between youth and parents,” she said.
For Deb, job satisfaction is “watching children develop into positive role models for their community.”
When children and youth reconnect with their family and community, they often find answers to many of the dilemmas they face, Deb told KQFR. “We listen to the children. We listen to their needs and their wants.” Sometimes just speaking and being heard enables youth to make decisions in their own lives, she noted.
Here’s Deb’s full interview with KQFR. Deb Douglas Interview_KQFR