Cherokee Nation Project Promotes Fitness to Fight Substance Abuse

Healthy Nations: Reducing Substance Abuse Among Native Americans

The Cherokee Nation tribal health department established a project designed to enhance the protective factors that would help keep young people away from substance abuse. The project's strategies included:

  • Encouraging physical activity and fitness
  • Promoting health and wellness
  • Creating "heritage clubs" to instill pride among students in their culture.

The project was part of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's (RWJF) national program, Healthy Nations®: Reducing Substance Abuse Among Native Americans.

Key Results: Cherokee Nation Healthy Nations:

  • Engaged up to 1,000 members in increasing physical activity and healthy lifestyles through running and walking clubs. The project enrolled several generations of families, people with diabetes and cardiovascular disease and serious runners, who compete in road races. Participants also assisted with community service projects.
  • Instituted a school-based health promotion curriculum for 4th graders that taught them how to make healthy choices, and provided a time to walk or run with Healthy Nation staff each week. Project staff taught the class in 25 schools to 1,000 students.
  • Helped form new Native American Heritage Clubs, or enhance existing clubs, in 17 schools. The clubs provide education and activities on tribal history and culture in an effort to instill pride in Native American students in their culture.

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