14 years old
Student, Upland High School, Upland, California
My name is Sanaa Johnson. I currently go to Upland High School, in Upland, CA. When my mother first introduced me to the program (PATHSTAR) it made me want to do it so much. I would love to participate in PATHSTAR for three reasons. One of my reasons I want to do this is because I have never participated in an open water swimming event and I feel like it would give me a once in a lifetime memory. A second reason is to represent my current city I live in. Also I would love to represent Lower Brule Reservation (South Dakota). To prove to the kids that feel like giving up, that no matter where you come from you can always accomplish your dreams and your goals. My last and final reason is it would push me a step further in my water polo and swim future.
While I’m in San Francisco, I would like to learn different strategies of how to swim, better ways to eat, to never give up on myself, and to manage my time well. The learning from the week I would like to bring home is: better swimming, better life style, and how to manage my time better than I do. These strategies would play long term strategies in my life that would make me a stronger young lady. The learning I would like to bring home is also time management, strategies of how to swim better and last to have a lot of faith in yourself. These are three big things I focus on because I can help my water polo and swim friends with swimming. Second I can show my nieces and nephew that if you have a lot of faith in yourself that you will never fail. Finally for time management I can help my niece and cousins that will enter high school in a few years that there are ways you can manage your time so you don’t have to struggle through school.
The commitment me and my teammate have for this is strong. This is something we are very interested in and are willing to put over 100% into this.
Three goals I hope to fulfill in this are to
finish the swim in less than an hour and a half,
to stay super neat in the house we will be in and to do whatever we need for us and the other members to succeed
and to stay as safe as possible.
15 years old
Student, Upland High School, Upland, California
Hello. My name is Savannah Trujillo, and I’m 14 years old. PATHSTAR was introduced to me by my best friend Sanaa Johnson. As soon as I began researching the program I immediately had an interest.
The reason I’d like to take part in the PATHSTAR Alcatraz Swim Week is because I feel it would be an amazing bonding experience. Also I would like to start raising awareness for diabetes. My brother as well as my mom and grandmother are diagnosed with diabetes. This disease, both Type 1 and Type 2, run in my family. As a result of this I’d like to make more of society aware of what is affecting nearly 10% of the US population. Lastly, I would love to engage in the Alcatraz Swim Week because it would be a life changing experience that will never be forgotten.
During my time in San Francisco I would enjoy venturing deeper into a healthy lifestyle and a family environment. By expanding my horizons I will be able to bring back the knowledge picked up in the week spent in San Francisco.
Some things I would like to bring back to my family and community are how to maintain a healthy, well-rounded diet, and an all -round more efficient lifestyle. My team is willing to put in all we can to make this experience the best it can be. Also the effort my team is committing to putting in is 110% meaning we will strive to come of the week as a healthier stronger group.
My three goals for the participation in PATHSTAR is to start a new lifestyle, stay safe, and complete the swim with more pride than ever before.
During the week, I’d like to learn more about Alcatraz itself. I’ve never been to the west coast, so I see this as a great opportunity to be able to hear stories about it and be able to experience the place and environment around in person.
The learning I’d like to bring back home to apply in my own life is how to be a more healthy person. I feel like if I use the resources and new information I am given, I can not only give myself a healthier lifestyle afterwards but forever on as well.
The learning I’d like to bring back to share with my family and community is that becoming more healthy doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing. That changing only little things can be fun and easy and not only improve how one views oneself but how one views others and the world as well.
I think my team’s commitment after the Alcatraz swim week will be very strong. We are all very active independent leaders who I know will try our best to change the community around us in a positive way.
Three goals I will commit to in participating in the PATHSTAR program are being open to trying new things, to give it my all in everything we do, and to have the best experience I possibly can while attending.
49 years old
Clerk, City of Fairfield, CA
My name is Shawna Jackson. I’m 49 years old. I was diagnosed with diabetes March 26, 2013.
When I was first diagnosed I jumped on taking control of my diabetes. I stopped eating everything I thought was bad for me. I signed up for diabetes class at Chapa-De, where I learn so much about diabetes, fact and myths. With all this information given to me, I took control of my diabetes, and within 6 months I was off all medication. I have kept my HgbA1C between 6.4 and 5.4 since September, 2013.
My biggest fear is that diabetes will affect my kidneys. I was born with 3 kidneys and had numerous surgeries from the age of 3 months to 9 years old. I was under a doctor’s care for them until I was in my early 20’s.
I have seen what diabetes has done to people from family members to clients when I worked Home Care. I have seen people on dialysis, losing limbs, going blind, and so much more. These are things I do not want to happen to me, and the only way to prevent these complications is to take care of myself.
I participated in PATHSTAR last year. That experience is one I will pass on to friends and family and anyone who wants to learn about how to take control of their diabetes. I have taken what I learned from PATHSTAR and passed on the information I learned. I and my team mates (Kristen Bradley and Patty Davis) gave a container gardening class at the Auburn Chapa-De in March, and I gave another gardening class to the Northern Valley Indian clinic in Woodland on May 19. Each of these classes were very successful. We had 14 participants at each site. I do plan on going to talk to more diabetes programs on reservations this summer. I’m also working with Northern Valley to get a 5K going this year, as well as participating in a few 5K, 10K, and a half marathon by the end of the year.
I would like to participate in the 2016 PATHSTAR Alcatraz swim program to learn more and to help support other participants in any way I can, from helping in to the kitchen to offering emotional support.
My 3 goals after PATHSTAR:
To educate as many people about diabetes that I can—on and off the reservations, Native Americans and NonNatives, young and old.
To keep my HgbA1C down.
To control my weight.
These are goals I try to do every day. if I can get one person to change to take care of their diabetes, I feel I have helped a whole family, not just one person, and that makes me feel good.
PATHSTAR is a program that I am honored to say I participated in. After last year’s experiences, I have kept my HgbA1C at 5.4.
54 years old
Chapa De Indian Health Service, Dental Biller
My name is Donna Nunn. I just recently heard about PATHSTAR and I was super excited about it. I told myself I must do this!
So here is a little about me.
I am an enrolled member of the Cherokee Nation. I am 54 years old and a very proud mother and grandmother. I have battled with obesity and addiction and won! Over the years my weight has been up and down. I even tried surgery. Short periods of success were achieved but once I went back to my old habits the weight always came back on. Then in 2013 I joined a support group and realized how important it is for me to have others around to support and encourage me. People who have ‘been there.’ It made all the difference for me.
I would like to participate in the PATHSTAR Alcatraz swim week to challenge myself, to build up my confidence and self esteem, and to learn new ways to help others with similar struggles. I want to set this goal and reach it. With the support of others, I know I can.
During the week I hope to learn more about living a healthy life and to gain new ideas of healthy foods and how to prepare them. To become a stronger swimmer will be great, too. At home I want to be able to continue to use all I learn to live a full, happy, healthy life for myself and my family. To teach by example that if you set your mind on a goal that with hard work and a ‘never give up’ attitude it can be reached.
Being obese most of my life, I know the struggles associated with it. I know the difficulties involved, both physical and mental. My desire is to help others in this area. No one should ever have to feel bad about himself or herself.
I want to come back with new ways to inspire and motivate others. One idea I have is starting a ‘new experience activity group’ to encourage others to try new things with the goal being to create a passion for a new physical activity in each one. Some things we could do are kayaking, hiking, biking, and maybe set a goal of doing a 5K event together! Those are just some of the outdoor activities. Indoor we could meet to roller skate or even go bowling. Hey—we could have a team! There really are so many things to try. I would also like to match myself up one to one with those who are looking for a friend and a cheerleader in the journey to a healthier life. I want to lead by example, and I believe all I learn at PATHSTAR will empower me to do just that.
As a team I want to reach out to others in our community, in health fairs and community events and to share our experiences of PATHSTAR with others. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity, and I plan on using all I learn to better myself and to help others.
Three goals I will commit to in participating in the PATHSTAR program are:
I will give 100% to this program and keep a positive attitude.
I will try new foods and will encourage others every step of the way.
I will not say no!
I am very excited!
We are all in this together and loving and supporting others is very important to me. Sometimes just a kind word and a smile will make all the difference to another person. Each of us have those to give out freely.
My desire is to be an example to my family and everyone I meet. Showing them that physical activity is fun, healthy eating can be delicious, and to live life to the fullest, enjoy all the beauty this world has to offer.
One more thing. My grandson is only 2, and I plan on being able to keep up with him for many many more years.
Thank you for considering me.
Karen Elizabeth Wapato
Colville Confederated Tribes, Nez Perce Band
Coulee Dam, Washington
58 years old
Nimiipuu Health, Diabetes Coordinator
I am applying for the 2016 PATHSTAR Alcatraz Swim Program. I completed the Alcatraz Swim in 2013. The swim, and participating in the training week, was not exactly what I expected when I arrived in San Francisco in 2013. It was one of the most challenging things I have ever done.
I knew I would train and swim. But I did not know I would have to use fins. I had never swum with fins before. I did not know we would be visiting organic gardens. I had no clue how strict San Francisco is regarding recycling. I did not know we would be cooking all our meals.
It was a miracle I made the first trip. Life is a series of challenges. And it will always be. The trip itself taught me to move forward, even though I was surrounded with adversity. Just keep moving forward. But all I really remember about the next two years is that it was an extremely rough period of time in my life, but I just kept my eye on Alcatraz.
After I came back from Alcatraz, I ate like I ate in San Francisco. I ate simple whole foods. I used only honey to sweeten—and not much. And I watched the fat content. I never ate bread of any kind. I succeeded in eating this way for 3 months. I posted many times on my FB page the food I ate and how I prepared it. I would also post how I packed my lunches, which people seemed more interested in than I ever imagined. I continue to share food and recipes on FB.
I acquired a job as a Public Health Nurse on my reservation in Inchelium, WA. I had never lived there before and knew very few people. I loved working in this community. I am a certified yoga instructor and was able to start INCHELIUM YOGA. I offered the course weekly, and I also substitute-taught in Nespelem, WA and Grand Coulee, WA. I have often thought that Twin Lakes in Inchelium would be a wonderful site for a PATHSTAR-type event. I hope that a diabetes immersion camp can be held there sometime in the future. It is so beautiful there!
Near Inchelium is an organic food store (in Kettle Falls, WA). I began frequenting the store for my own groceries. I formed a relationship with the store, and we talked of offering vouchers for people from Inchelium to shop at their store. We even had talked about all the local organic farms, and that maybe we could hold a Farmers’ Market in Inchelium. I was just beginning to find out about recalling in the area.
I wanted to be closer to my granddaughter (and her mommy and daddy), who lived in Clarkston, WA. Karilyn is my only grandchild. She has PKU. I applied for a PHN job in Lapwal, ID—‘the land of the butterflies’—on the Nez Perce reservation. And I left beautiful Inchelium and the wonderful people there.
I first started out as a PHN with the Nimiipuu (Nez Perce) Health Center. During that time, I started LAPWAI YOGA. Unfortunately, although many have stated interest in yoga here, I could not get enough people (3-4 is all that is needed) to sustain the class. So, it has been very hard for me to ‘sell’ yoga down here in Lapwai, ID.
My job as PHN ended, and I was offered an interim position. I have worked as the interim Diabetes Coordinator for the last 6 months. The good part of that is I learned a lot about the SDPI (Special Diabetes Program for Indians) grant. The bad part is this position (on so many reservations) is the ‘kiss of death.’ It is a highly visible position and there are many demands, some unreasonable. So, I made the hard decision to leave. I am not the right person for the coordinator position, but I have loved working in the program, and I could see myself involved with DM Case Management in the future.
I will return to my reservation (Colville) probably. Above all else, I want to be available to my 5 year old granddaughter and her special needs. My granddaughter lives on formula and engineered ‘fake’ food. She eats exactly like we tell others not to! I am very worried about her developing diabetes on top of PKU. To learn more about this and how to prevent my granddaughter getting diabetes is one of my top goals right now.
I also decided I need more education in Yoga and hope to attend a new 300-hour certification class in Yoga Therapy at the Kripalu Yoga Institute (Stockbridge, Maine) in July and August. This will give me the knowledge to teach yoga to specialized groups (diabetics, PTSD, elders, those with arthritis, those with joint replacements, etc.) My goal is to blend yoga into my nursing practice.
I know personally that when I exercise I tend to eat better. And when I am truly in tune with my body, I know what my body needs as far a nutrients, hydration and movement. I know that food and nutrition go hand in hand and are synergistic and symbiotic to each other.
I am also applying for me. My mother passed right after I started my job in Lapwai, ID. I will never know why all my mourning for my mother was done in this area, so far away from home and family. It has been a challenge to know how to go on with my mother no longer walking this earth with me. I live alone, and so there have been many days and nights of soul searching. But it is the spirit of my mother that propels me to move forward. She was a Nimiipuu, she survived Indian boarding schools and TB, she went on to become an elementary school teacher and registered nurse and raised four children. She always exercised and ‘ate right.’ She loved See’s chocolate candy, but whenever she ate it, she knew it meant a few more laps in the pool or another mile walking or biking. She is such a role model for me. She showed me how to live on planet earth, how to exercise, what to eat, and to never give up. Never give up!
PATHSTAR will always be a part of me. It taught me what a diabetes immersion camp might look like. But it isn’t just about eating and exercising. It is about eating and growing organic food, it’s about saving our planet in the many ways possible, including and especially, recycling. PATHSTAR is about reaching deep into your core and pulling out all the wondrous human inside. Thank you.
Colville Confederated Tribes
59 years old
Benewah Medical Center: Inreach Coordinator
My name is Theresa Bessette and I have participated in the last 3 yrs. of Pathstar. This program has made my life easier and very understanding as a healthy human being. I love to participate in daily exercise and Triathlons is my passion. I hope I can learn more about healthy eating. I enjoy every day of my life to encourage others and stand by their sides as they make better choices in their lives. Sometimes it’s not just about yourself it is about whom you are with and what their needs are. I remember being there from the beginning and not thinking I could make it another day. As I look back knowing what I have done for myself and family I just smile and be proud of where I came from. When I do events it’s not just about me to win it all and beat someone it’s about what is in your heart and what you have committed to others with.
Wellness to me means loving life and learning and growing from the changes that occur. I use times of transition as opportunities to rethink priorities and be intentional about new habits. Healthy habits are a very important part of my life. Making a commitment to fitness and healthy nutrition can be a challenge. I challenge myself daily! I have made this commitment of wellness to myself so I can live life to the fullest and enjoy a longer life with my family.
When I deal with obstacles in life, I react in one of two ways—either by losing hope and falling into self-destructive habits OR by using them as an invitation to find my inner strength. I may choose to take longer walks or do a harder workout to ease my mind and re-group. As I say to myself daily, being beautiful isn’t just about what I apply to my face. It’s all the big and little things that matter, a combination of making nutritious dietary choices, moving my body, and taking care of myself—body and soul.