Oneida Nation of Wisconsin
30 years old
Owens Valley Career Development Center: Site Project Coordinator
When I first heard about PATHSTAR at the Native Wellness conference in March, 2013, it instantly caught my attention. The documentary on the swim was inspirational. I knew that I wanted to be a part of this experience. My grandmother, who was a full blooded Oneida Indian, passed away due to the negative effects of diabetes. She was diagnosed with Type II Diabetes about 15 years prior to her death. A few years after finding out out she had diabetes, she had to have a quadruple bypass on her heart. The sad part was, by the time she found out what she needed to do to change her lifestyle, she was so set in her ways, it became nearly impossible to do so. Both my father and my uncle (my grandmother’s children) have high blood pressure. My uncle has also recently experienced a heart attach and had to have surgery as well. I’ve learned about the fact that diseases can be passed down through generations, and I was aware that my chances of having heart disease and diabetes were higher than the rest of the
population because I am Native American. This scares me because it seems like our family’s health history is being passed down through the generations. I feel like I need to become more prepared for myself and my family.
The PATHSTAR program addresses the ways a person needs to change their lifestyle in order to prevent and/or reduce the effects diabetes has on the Native community. The idea that the information learned from the experience should be shared with members of the community and fellow family members is something that I strongly agree with. I have family members that did not grow up with much money or have access to healthy food options while growing up. I would like to be able to find a way to reach out to my family and get them on the healthy track. The Native organization that I work for serves low income families. These families are often living in circumstances they are either born into or face due to lack of education and/or negative job circumstances. The clients that I work with are from many Native nations in the United States, including Cherokee, Mono, Tachi-Yokut, Choctaw, Tule River, Sioux, and Amah Mutsan just to name a few. Many clients have family members or suffer themselves from heart problems and diabetes. I would love to be able to share knowledge learned from PATHSTAR with them.
I would like to learn more about the lifestyle change that Native Americans need to take into their lives to live healthier. I know that there are ways that I could learn to teach others about the healthy way of living. I want to be able to reach out to Natives within my community and family. I want to be able to teach a healthy lifestyle approach to them while making them feel like this applies specifically to them because they are Native. I want to learn more about how to overcome the obstacles that Native Americans face when it comes to being healthy. I would hope to become equipped with knowledge that I can train others on.
I’d like to become more aware of my cultural traditions and how they can influence my everyday life. I think that if I were to learn more about how my ancestors lived and how this lifestyle was healthier than what I’m living today, I’d be bale to change my life. I believe that through education myself with people who want to live a healthier life I will be inspired to want to continue being healthy. Many times in life, when I have made a choice to do something that is beneficial to m own life, I have struggled. This is usually due to a busy work schedule or not enough support around me to keep up with the new choice I’ve made.
The most important part of this experience is that I would be able to show others a new way of living life healthier. By participating in the PATHSTAR program I hope to learn ways that I would be able to easily share nutrition facts, being active and working together as a family to ensure our Native relatives stay healthy. The epidemic of diabetes is scary and there are still many people who don’t quite grasp the importance of stopping it from affecting their family. Even if there are members of a family who have diabetes, there are still ways then can take charge of their life to live healthier. Being diagnosed with diabetes is not the end. I want to be able to share the knowledge from PATHSTAR to my organization, Owens Valley Career Development Center, as well. OVCDC is a Tribal TANF program which helps Native American families (all tribes) who are low income, to get jobs, work experience, pay for childcare and school, as well as facilitate programs for education within the OVCDC sites. The areas I work in specifically are in the filed of prevention—encouraging family formation. Be attending PATHSTAR, I will be able to set up conferences with my site and other OVCDC sites (there are 14) and share the knowledge I have gained with staff members. From there I will be able to set up meetings with our Native clients and share the education I have learned from PATHSTAR. I have already proposed this plan to my TANF Director and have the organization’s full support.
During the year following the Alcatraz Swim week, I commit to eating healthy, clean foods. This lifestyle change is something that I think will support an active lifestyle I really want to have. I want to be able to share the changes I am experiencing with this lifestyle change with the Native Americans I work with. I hope to be able to participate in a conference with PATHSTAR at some point during the year to share my experience with Natives from around the country. My hope is that the loner the PATHSTAR program runs, the more well-known it will be in Native country. I believe that I can help this happen.
The first goal I will commit to in participating in the PATHSTAR program is to eat clean, healthy foods. I want to be able to create a lifestyle change within myself and I hope that the PATHSTAR program can help me do this. The second goal would be that I would share what I learn with my Native American family. They do not realize the importance of healthy lifestyles and members of my family continue to get sick and have health problems. I have already lost my grandmother to Type II Diabetes. She was our family matriarch. It hit our family hard when she died and I feel like the family just gave up after this. I want to help make our family stronger. The third goal I commit to would be to share the nutrition and educational information I learn from the PATHSTAR program to the Native Americans I work with and work to serve. I think that the more Natives hear about the importance of diabetes/heart disease awareness they will wake up and realize that they need to make changes within their own families. I aspire to be able to provide the resources to the Natives so that they have the tools to help themselves become healthier.
Colville Confederated Tribes
56 years old
Colville Tribe: Tribal Health Natural Helper: Suicide Prevention
I would like to participate in the PATHSTAR Alcatraz swim because I heard of other testimonies. This made me more inspired to become healthier and make better choices in my life. I believe it’s never too late to start making healthy choices and living my life to the fullest. What a better way to start it, by doing this challenge.
During the week I’d like to learn about healthy eating to help me determine which foods I should eat, pay attention to how my body reacts when I eat something and also more attention about drinking water and sleeping patterns without prescriptions.
The learning I’d like to bring home to apply in my own life is: how the healthy changes are going to affect me the rest of my life. Making these gradual changes it will be more likely I will be able to maintain them for a lifetime.
The learning I’d like to bring home to share with my family and community is how to motivate people to change their health behaviors. Encourage people including my family how to make healthier choices by conversations with social media, Facebook and education materials, including the young.
I am a Natural Helper, which works with the communities on suicide prevention and awareness. I am a Type II Diabetic and have a sleeping disorder along with a thyroid disorder. I would like to be able to have my diabetic medication lowered and be totally taken off the C-PQP machine that I use at nights to breath.
Goal !: I will commit to participating in healthy events, walks and hopefully be able to run again as my weight goes down.
Goal 2: I will commit to participating in daily exercise.
Goal 3: I will commit to eating healthy
Josephine Cohen (Joey)
Colville Federated Tribes, Okanogan Bank
57 years old
Recording Secretary, Colville Tribal Gaming, Omak, Washington
My name is Joey Cohen. I am an enrolled member of the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation from Washington State. I am of the Okanogan Band.
In 2012 I was most fortunate to be able to participate in the PATHSTAR Alcatraz Swim with three other team members from my home. I would like to be a part of the 2013 PATHSTAR Alcatraz Swim because I do not recall ever doing anything so self rewarding and fulfilling! I knew nothing about the swim so I had no idea of what to expect at the conclusion of my 10 day stay. The challenge of finishing the swim and the support in preparation that I received gave me a newfound sense of accomplishment and above all a belief in myself.
Staying in a home wit the other participants was a wonderful experience. We were all there for the common goal of learning how to live a healthy lifestyle. We were given the resources to prepare healthy foods during our entire stay there. Prior to my PATHSTAR participation, I had ingrained in my head that it was impossible for me to lose weight even though I exercised and thought I was eating healthy. I came away with the knowledge that portion control was the key factor for me to be able to lose weight. Throughout my adult life I always fantasized about going to a “Fat Farm; and the PATHSTAR was my dream come true.
This year I would like to learn more about the purchasing of the food and be able to know what quantities to buy. I would like to also see the costs associated with buying healthy foods. Our remote area does not have such an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables readily available year round and I need to know how to improvise for those foods.
I look forward to meeting the other participants and learn about why they came to PATHSTAR and what they hope to get out of it and be able to encourage them. Collectively we will fulfill the ultimate goal of the final swim from Alcatraz. I’d like to know how they plan to enlighten their communities with their participation in PATHSTAR.
The three things that I will commit to participating in the PATHSTAR program are: I will be there to support everyone, especially the new participants, as I can recollect my fears and anxieties that I had; during the daily swims I will strive to push myself to improve daily; and always see the positive side no matter what the challenge may be.
To this day I still share my PATHSTAR experience with my family and people from my community—and, for that matter, anyone who will listen. Prior to the 2012 PATHSTAR swim, I was in physical therapy. If anything that I share it is to stress that anyone can do some form of exercise and follow a healthy eating plan. I still struggle with my weight and at times physical limitations but because of my PATHSTAR participation I know that if I am diligent I can overcome anything. I will continue to advocate leading a healthy lifestyle as much as possible, locally and nationally if I can. PATHSTAR has truly changed my life for the better.
Colville Confederated Tribes
52 years old
Colville Tribe: Tribal Health Public Health Nurse
I would like to participate in the PATHSTAR Alcatraz swim week because it sounds like a fun, scary, and challenging adventure that will increase my self-esteem, mental and physical health, and self-confidence in my own abilities.
During the week I would like to lea
rn more about exercise, healthy eating and drinking and snacks, and self-care. I have strong family history of diabetes; my mother was an insulin-dependent diabetic and had a below the knee amputation of her leg and had to be on a hemodialyisis machine the last 5 years of her life; my sister Sandy and I operated the dialysis machine at home for Mom. My father also became an insulin dependent diabetic and had cardiac conditions later in life.
The learning I would like to bring back home to apply in my own life and my family’s and community’s is promoting healthy eating, exercise and weight loss and the multitude of benefits that healthy eating and exercise and a healthy weight provides to our health, minds, body, life, and relationships with others and our ability to set and reach goals.
During the year following our swim I will continue exercising and eating healthy to lose weight and to be at a healthier BMI. I will promote and encourage healthy eating, healthy drinking and exercise to all my clients, co-workers, family, and hopefully be a great example of success for all to see—that eating healthy meals and snacks and drinking healthy fluids and daily exercise will improve your OVERALL health and decrease your risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. My goals are to lose 20% of my current body weight, to establish and maintain an exercise routine, and to eat more frutis/vegetables/lean meats/nuts in my diet.
Colville Confederated Tribes, Okanogan Band
32 years old
Colville Confederated Tribes Diabetes Prevention Program: Physical Activities Lifestyle Specialist
My name is Shelli Martinez and I am a member of the Colville Confederated Tribes, Okanogan Band, in Washington State. I have the privilege to work with our Tribal people as a Physical Activities Specialist for our Diabetes Program. We work together as a team to encourage healthy choices that will prevent diabetes and enhance our quality of life. The
PATHSTAR swim week is without a doubt the most empowering experience I own! The PATHSTAR program provided the support we needed to work through our fears, prepare for the obstacles we encountered during the week, and enhance our lifestyles through hand-on health education. I have been able to implement the skills I received during the swim week in our community and help others who are making healthy changes for themselves and their families.
During the week, I’d like to learn about each participant: their personalities, role in their community, healthy lifestyle barriers they experience and their ideas on how to overcome barriers. I’d also like to learn about healthy foods/recipes, drinks, and recreational activities that can be brought back to share with my community, family, and friends.
I would like to increase my leadership role as a swim helper so that I can motivate my fellow swimmers during their practice swims. Prior to my first Alcatraz swim week I was fearful of the ocean, but I now feel confident in the open water and look forward to my swims. The skills I gained during the PATHSTAR week inspired me to continue my swimming and I was able to become a certified water front lifesaver.
I want to learn about swim program development so I can help implement a similar program that is tailored to the needs of our local communities. At minimum, this would include the planning procedures needed to have a successful swim week, insurance coverage required, legal waiver forms, recruitment of swim coaches/swimmers, media relations, non-profit organization requirements, grants/scholarships/donations available for swim gear and start-up costs, and organization of daily schedule. The beautiful lakes on our reservation are perfect for open water swim programs, paddle boarding, kayaking, canoeing, and water aerobics.
Our team is fully committed to participating in all aspects of the PATHSTAR program. We will follow the guidelines set for us and stay on track with our healthy cooking, healthy eating, and exercise routines. During the year following the Alcatraz Swim Week we will share our triumphant experiences with our friends and family, at community events and conferences. We will represent the Colville Tribes and all First Nation people by honoring our ancestors’ guidance to show kindness, be humble, help others in need, and make healthy choices.
Three goals I will commit to in participating in the PATHSTAR program are:
1) Work with my teammates and community to implement an open water swim program.
2) Share my PATHSTAR experience, the struggles, and how I overcame them.
3) Be a positive role model for others who need motivation to make healthy choices.
Jeffrey Not Help Him
Pine Ridge, South Dakota and Pocatello, Idaho
54 years old
Child Advocate, Oglala Lakota Casa
I would like to participate in the PATHSTAR Alcatraz swim because of the awareness of health and the focus on wellness. I was proud that Richard Iron Cloud participated in 2003 and was excited about participating in 2011.
I would like to learn more about PATHSTAR and its programs and incorporate it into my, my family’s, and my friends’ lifeways and to be able to share it with my community.
I am committed to acknowledging the path of a week of information, living in a healthy way, and enriching wellness to our self.
My goals are finishing the swim, making the week and doing all the learning beneficial to our mind and body, and leaving with our new outlook, plan and cleaner path to our to our goal lifeway.
San Jose, California
36 years old
Human Resources Business Partner, Hitachi Data Systems
I am an extremely passionate person and I truly love life with all of its ups and downs. I am always looking to make the world a better place. I believe we must all test our physical, mental and spiritual growth as human beings.
I am a firm believer in sharing what I learn because we are all one human race, on one planet, and we need to take care of each other. What is the point if I reach the top of the mountain, but someone else falls behind? To me, life is not worth living unless I am helping my fellow human beings, animals and ultimately the planet. While I live, I want to make a difference that will hopefully outlast me.
I’ve been through many things in my life that would potentially cause someone else in my shoes to become timid and unsure of herself. Instead, all of my experiences, both positive and negative have given me the strength, courage and determination to make my life better. I’ve had numerous challenges in the past, but I’ve been trying to become a healthier individual spiritually, mentally and physically. I am nowhere near perfect and wouldn’t ever advertise myself to be. I stumble often. However, I always get up, dust myself off and get back into the ring to fight like I’ve never fought before.
I’ve been fortunate to have had many people in my life tell me that they’ve been inspired by me. I think this is because I lead by example. I never start out with the direct goal of ‘teaching/inspiring’ someone else. Rather, I live my life positively, do things to help me grow as an individual and then I share my personal stories. I am often able to connect with almost anyone I meet and help them feel comfortable enough to open up and share their life stories as well.
I truly hope that I am able to participate in this event. I would be honored and extremely lucky to become a part of the team!
During the week, I’d like to learn more about how to take better care of myself, my friends and family and my community.
The learning I’d like to bring back home to apply in my own life is healthy ways to deal with negative stress instead of doing things that compromise my health.
The learning I’d like to bring back to share with my family and community is that with perseverance, an open mind and humility, anything is possible. I’d also like to share what I’ve learned about a healthier lifestyle.
My commitment to this experience during the year following the Alcatraz Swim Week is to continue with the positive life changes that I’ve learned. I also want to get more involved in the Native community and be an advocate for the wonderful work that PATHSTAR does to promote good Native health.
Three goals I commit to in participating in the PATHSTAR program are
1) Lose weight/inches and/or build muscle
2) Learn to value myself more
3) Complete the swim safely
Karen Elizabeth Wapato
Colville Confederated Tribes, Nez Perce Band
55 years old
I have gone through a major life change. I lost my marriage after 35 years. I was blind-sided by this event and left devastated. I did not want to live, suffered depression, extreme weight loss, and hair loss. There were two moments that I can look back to, that began my acceptance of my situation and my re-joining the living. The first: I was crying non-stop. My daughter drove me around to calm me. We finally stopped at a place on the Snake River called Buffalo Eddy. It is a place where Nez Perce men, women, and children crossed the Snake as they escaped from the cavalry. As I stood on the white sand, which shimmered under the full moon, I realized how much my ancestors went through so I could be here today. I knew that what I was going through was significant, but not insurmountable. I knew I owed my ancestors to make my life count. The second: I hiked up a steep hill. At the bottom of the hill I was crying. By the time I had gotten to the top, I had stopped. I understood literally and figuratively, the phrase ‘one step at a time’ as I climbed the hill. I was filled with calm as I sat on a prayer rock on the top of the hill. And the Serenity Prayer came to me: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.’ On that day, on top of that hill, I understood. It was the proverbial moment of change that has lead me to today.
Today, I have a ‘bucket-list.’ And the Alcatraz Swim is on the list. The more we accomplish, the stronger we become. I want to accomplish the swim. I want my success to be shared by my family, friends, and community. I want others to look at me and know that if I can do it, so can they! Whether it is the Swim, surviving a divorce, or living as a diet and exercise-controlled Type II Diabetic.
I am extremely interested in ‘sustainable health and well-being’ and hope to learn a great deal more about this concept if accepted to participate in PATHSTAR. I am a registered nurse but have trouble with the current delivery of health care and Western Medicine. I recently became a certified Kripalu yoga instructor and am beginning to teach on the Colville Indian Reservation. I hope the Swim experience will help me realize how I best can help my community utilizing all my assets.
Three goals I will commit to:
1) To live a healthy lifestyle and be a role-model for PATHSTAR
2) To promote others to attempt their dreams, whether it be to become a PATHSTAR swimmer or any other dream that is healthy and rewarding.
3) I will keep a journal regarding the PATHSTAR experience. I will srite and speak on behalf of PATHSTAR. I will make PATHSTAR a part of my life.