Holding Up Our Youth

The Holding up Our Youth curriculum consists of 12 sessions. Each of the sessions includes important cognitive-behavioral skills training and weaves in information about alcohol and drugs. Traditional Suquamish stories were collected from Elders and other community members, and are included as a way to convey and reinforce session information through the messages and values found in the stories. Elders and tribal leaders volunteered to come into the sessions to share their experiences and perspective, and to talk to the youth about various topics such as drug and alcohol use, Suquamish spirituality and cultural values, and Suquamish teachings and stories. These guest speakers provide an opportunity for youth participants to meet with community members who can serve as mentors and resources. The youth also participate in culturally-related activities such as food gathering and preparation, traditional introductions, traditional storytelling, and gift preparation (including beading, weaving, cedar collection, carving, etc.). Participants are also involved in a number of other activities such as breakfast with the tribal police chief, visiting tribal chambers, and helping with the annual Canoe Journey hosting.

Session 1: Four Winds and Canoe Journey Metaphors
The goals of this session are 1) to introduce and discuss the Four Winds, a traditional Suquamish spiritual concept that can be used to frame daily life and teach life skills, and 2) discuss the Northwest Native traditional Canoe Journey and how it can serve as a metaphor for life. Other traditional Suquamish beliefs are also discussed. Information about alcohol is also included.

Session 2: How I am perceived? Media Awareness & Literacy
This session focuses on how American Indians and Alaska Natives are portrayed in the media. Participants learn how to recognize when stereotypes are being used, how AIAN culture has been exploited, how AIAN history has been misrepresented, and how to stand up against stereotypes. Information about prescription drugs is also included.

Session 3: Who am I? Beginning at the Center
Participants learn about Suquamish values, traditional ways to introduce oneself, self awareness and integrity, and how to use the concept of the Four Winds as a part of self-definition. Participants are encouraged to explore the idea of a physical self, mental self, emotional self and spiritual self. Information about marijuana is also included.

Session 4: Community Help and Support: Help on the Journey
Participants learn about the importance of community, how they are a part of many communities, and the importance of giving back to their community. Youth learn how to identify where they can go for help in their own community. Participants also learn about what it means to be a mentor and how they can become mentors for those around them. Information about club drugs and stimulants is also included.

Session 5: Who will I become? Goal Setting
The focus of this session is to explore what kinds of goals are important and to learn a step-by-step approach to setting goals. Participants will begin to understand the importance of goal setting and learn how to cope with obstacles that might hinder achieving set goals. Information about hallucinogens is also included.

Session 6: Overcoming Obstacles: Solving Problems
Participants learn how to recognize when they are having a problem, learn ways to solve problems and make good decisions, and discuss where they can go when they do have a problem. Participants learn how to define a problem, brainstorm solutions, pick the best solution, make and act on a plan, and review and revise the plan if needed. Information about nicotine is also included.

Session 7: Listening
The focus of this session is teaching listening skills. Effective listening is discussed, and the importance of listening is illustrated through storytelling and other traditional activities. Suquamish values stress respect and the belief that you must be an effective listener before you can become an effective communicator. Information about methamphetamines is also included.

Session 8: Effective Communication: Expressing Your Thoughts and Feelings
The goal is to teach participants effective communications skills, how to disagree respectfully, refusal and assertiveness skills and how to deal with peer reactions to assertiveness. In this session, participants practice positive ways to resolve conflict and to express feelings. Information about opiates is also included.

Session 9: Moods and Coping with Negative Emotions
Participants learn about different emotions and positive and negative self-talk. This session is facilitated by the use of the Suquamish “Ten Rules of the Canoe” They also learn about depression and suicide, how to cope with negative emotions and difficult situations, and how to find a safe person or place to express emotions. Information about inhalants is also included.

Session 10: Safe Journey without Alcohol and Drugs
The goal for this session is to learn about addictions, to learn how expectancies influence perception and to learn about the consequences of drug and alcohol use.

Session 11: Strengthening our Community
This last session focuses on finding leaders within the Suquamish community to serve as role models, learning about the Boldt decision, learning about leadership, and learning how to make good choices within the Suquamish community. This session includes field trips into the community to volunteer with important community projects.

Session 12: Honoring Ceremony
This ceremony is a way to acknowledge youth for the completion of the program and honor their unique attributes. Mentors are invited by the youth to attend the ceremony and the mentor has the opportunity to talk about the youth and their accomplishments. Tribal Elders, leaders and families are also invited to witness the ceremony and share a meal.

*Traditional stories, cultural activities and speakers from the community are woven throughout the sessions.