Colville Confederated Tribes
57 years old
Colville Tribe: Tribal Health Natural Helper: Suicide Prevention
My name is Theresa Bessette, I am an enrolled Colville Tribal Member. I was diagnosed last year with liver disease. It has progressed to stage 3, and daily I fight for my health to grow stronger and better. Since last year I have lost over 100 pounds, and I have gone from taking a lot of medication for my diabetes to only maintaining it now for my liver.
This is what I have to say to everyone who struggles with life-changing decisions: Giving up is easy: That is how I felt last year into my very first days of the PATHSTAR Alcatraz Swim Week. This is where I thank the other swim team members and angels for believing in me and making this happen. What takes courage is to hang on: that is what I still have today. If you begin with something and don’t get the desired result, you ultimately give up. Giving up could only push you farther from achieving your goal whereas hanging on could make you achieve big! This is what made my dream to make that Alcatraz swim and complete it come true. Never lose hope and stay dedicated, so keep believing and keep going! HAVE PATIENCE WITHIN YOURSELF BECAUSE YOU ARE WORTHY!
Travis J Bessette
Colville Confederated Tribes
34 years old
My name is Travis J Bessette, I am an enrolled Colville Tribal Member and I would like to have this chance this year to participate in the PATHSTAR Alcatraz Swim Week with my mother Theresa Bessette. I was able to be there last year as a support for her, and I see myself being a swim partner with her this year. Please give me that chance to make this happen. I currently am a borderline diabetic and don’t want to have this, so the changes I make in my life are going to be for a lifetime.
Colville Confederated Tribes, Okanogan Band
Spokane Valley, Washington
32 years old
Child Mental Health Therapist, Kalispel Tribe
Hello. I am Elizabeth Best, an enrolled member of the Okanogan Band of the Colville Confederated Tribes. I would like to participate in the PATHSTAR swim week because I feel that this will provide me with new tools to live a healthier life. I currently live away from my home community. I left home to continue my education and am a recent graduate from Eastern Washington University’s School of Social Work Masters Program. Being a full-time student and full-time employee has created many unhealthy habits of a life on the go. After graduation I was hired by the Kalispel Tribe of Indians and am the Child Mental Health Therapist. Having a background in social work, we look at things from a bio-psycho-social-spiritual aspect. My health has not been a priority. My family has a history of diabetes and heart disease. I have seen diabetes take the lives of some of my family members and how it is currently creating challenges for others within my family. I don’t wish to become my family’s next victim of diabetes, and I feel that participating in the Pathstar swim will increase my odds of winning the fight.
While at PATHSTAR Alcatraz Swim Week I want to learn about healthy food choices. Like many, I have tried several fad diets, often seeing small results. With little to show, I would become self-defeated and quit. I know from past failed attempts that this has to be a lifestyle change! Learning about foods will increase my awareness and strengthen my chances at success. I am a hands-on learner. I hope we have chances to prepare our meals in healthier fashions.
Returning to my family and community, I envision several ways of how to share my new skills. At home I am a role model to a 13-year-old young woman, and I realize that wellness is a learned behavior. My family never stressed healthy eating or exercise. I have modeled the importance of education, but now I must model taking care of yourself. I know that if I commit to eating differently my family members will follow. I plan to also share with co-workers and the community I work in. I am hoping that I will get the support of the tribal council to host screening clinics and other educational events in the community. Being a provider in the community, I know that people look to me for balance in their lives. I often tell parents their children are always watching what they do. I need to be a healthy example for those I provide services to.
As a team, I think we agree this experience will be life changing and we want to embrace all parts of the program. If approved I will be seeking support from my employer to see if the swim week and other required events can be approved leave. If I am not provided their support, I am willing to use my accrued vacation time.
Goals I wish to accomplish while attending the swim week are:
- Try one new food each day while attending the swim week.
- Push myself to accept all the physical challenges involved.
- Not let negative self talk control my ability to try new things.
Pine Ridge, South Dakota
33 years old
K-8 Guidance Counselor and Coach, Red Cloud Indian School
I’ve heard about the Alcatraz swim before from people who have participated. I’d like to take part in the PATHSTAR Alcatraz Swim Week because I believe that it is a good opportunity to bring a positive message to the youth at home, letting not only the youth but the members from my Tribe see that anything is possible when you put your mind to it. I enjoy living a healthy and active lifestyle. I try to live in a humble and respectable way so that my children can follow in my footsteps to help bring about positive changes to our reservation.
I would like to learn about healthier ways of incorporating organic foods into the day-to-day life and being able to assist others in living with a nutritional diet to help fight against the diabetes and obesity rates that my people face.
In all the traveling and athletic adventures I undertake, I share as much of the journey with my children, family, friends, and community. I enjoy sharing pictures and stories in hopes that my journey may inspire more people to live healthy and challenge themselves to becoming a better person and in turn create a better life for our youth and the future of our tribe.
I am a person of my word. When I commit to something I put my all in it. I do not believe in just going through the motions. I believe in taking full advantage of opportunities that lie in front of me and I want to make the most out of every opportunity.
Three goals I commit to with PATHSTAR are:
- Promoting a positive message to my community.
- Sharing information with my community and all those who would like to know about the journey to Alcatraz.
- Being a positive outlet of change for those who need help and assistance to make a positive lifestyle change.
Josephine Cohen (Joey)
Colville Confederated Tribes, Okanogan Bank
58 years old
Recording Secretary, Colville Tribal Gaming Commission, Omak, Washington
I am Joey Cohen, from the Okanogan Band, an enrolled member of the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation from Washington.
I would love to participate in the PATHSTAR Alcatraz Swim Week because I have never experienced such a positive life-affirming event. Each of the two years that I have been able to participate, I have come away with a one hundred percent change in my self worth. My family and friends have seen the complete transformation in me, both physically and mentally. It would be wonderful to attend the 2014 PATHSTAR Alcatraz Swim Week and be rejuvenated. The sense of fulfillment is beyond words.
During the week, I would like to learn more about planning healthy balanced meals with more variety and not always cooking the same healthy meal day in and day out. I would also like to find a way to sustain and motivate myself to continue the healthy lifestyle after the week.
Upon my return to home and family, I would like for them to help me as well as themselves to eat healthy and follow some sort of exercise regime. I continue to struggle with my weight and need to get it under control. On form of exercise I thoroughly enjoy now is swimming, thanks to PATHSTAR. Physically, my body cannot endure any type of high impact exercise, and swimming has become a great way for me to exercise without any impact to my joints. Ultimately the change in my family and me will me up to me to make that change.
The three goals I will commit to in participating in the PATHSTAR program will be:
- Embrace new challenges with a positive outlook
- Learn all that I can about how to lead a healthy lifestyle
- Be supportive of all participants.
Colville Confederated Tribes, Okanogan Ban
33 years old
Colville Confederated Tribes Diabetes Prevention Program: Physical Activities Lifestyle Specialist: Interim Manager, Colville Tribe Diabetes Program.
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 Lifestyle Specialist for our Diabetes Program and more recently as the Interim Diabetes Manager. We work together as a team to encourage healthy choices that will prevent diabetes and enhance our quality of life.
The PATHSTAR Alcatraz Swim Week is the most empowering endeavor I have attempted and successfully completed! 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 hands-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 swim techniques—breathing, stroke, and proper body alignment—that will enhance my swimming and that of the people I coach. I also want to have more training in life coaching tools to increase our success rate in areas such as weight loss, improved diet, and positive outlook.
I would like to increase my leadership role as a swim helper so that I can motivate my fellow swimmers during their practice swims and cheer them on during the final swim. Prior to my first Alcatraz swim week in 2011, I was fearful of the ocean, but I now feel confident in the open water and look forward to my open-water swims. The skills I gain during the PATHSTAR week inspire me to continue my swimming, and I have become a certified waterfront lifesaver. I am now collaborating with our Tribal Health program to sponsor our Colville Tribes 1st annual Take Charge of Your Heath Triathlon that will be kicking off on August 2nd, 2014, in Omak, Washington. My experience as a PATHSTAR swimmer has contributed to this endeavor becoming a reality!
Last year I wanted to learn more about program development so we could offer a similar program on our reservation. I have been able to utilize various tools and contacts from the swim week to make strides in developing a local swim event and water-based activities. The beautiful lakes on our reservation are perfect for open water swim programs, paddle boarding, kayaking, canoeing, and water aerobics. I have several people who will be obtaining lifeguard/waterfront lifesaver certifications and we will be instructing swimming, kayaking and paddle boarding/board yoga during summer months.
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 PATHSTAR 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:
- Work with my teammates and community to implement an open-water swim program/water-based activities
- Share my PATHSTAR experience, the struggles, and how I overcame them.
- Be a positive role model for others who need motivation to make healthy choices.
Pine Ridge, South Dakota
34 years old
Director of Advancement and Alumni Support, Red Cloud Indian School
My name is Nakina Mills and I am a enrolled tribal member from the Oglala Sioux Tribe. I would like to participate in the PATHSTAR Alcatraz Swim Week this year as I feel that I still get so much more from the program. I have completed the swim 5 times now, but I still believe that there is still so much more to learn and get from this program. The last time I participated, I had my then 10-month-old son with me and he is now almost 3 and a half years old. He is just so amazing and the more knowledge that I can obtain about the importance of maintaining your health and how important the food that we eat plays into this.
During the week, I’d like to learn more about the making of healthier food and being creative when it comes to making my food when I am back home. In the years that I have done PATHSTAR, my family and I have done different recipes for foods made with natural ingredients and using more fruits and vegetables when we cook. Prior to PATHSTAR, I really did not pay attention to all the fat and grease and harmful chemicals. So these are the things that I would to focus on this time.
In the end, everything that I learn I would be taking back and sharing with my family and the community. I am a director in the high school, and I already share and talk about about my experience with them. I hope that by me sharing it with them they will be playing it forward. My hope is that I can bring some students out this year so that we can start with the younger generation to change the unhealthy habits that have plagued our people for many years.