Kyle Diabetes Wellness Center Holds Grand Opening
“We invited the tribal SDPI program Kyle staff to join us in the building. They had a small trailer that they used for their fitness center. We wanted to share the fitness center area so that the community has a nice place to exercise and to learn more about how they can reduce their risk for developing diabetes. Our staff includes Registered Dietician, Kathi Murray who came to us from White Earth, Sawee Frank Data Coordinator who runs all of our data and keeps us organized and Emily Good Weasel, fitness Technician. We’re still in the process of settling into the building and getting supplies in but we wanted to get the fitness area opened up.”
A cold snap and overcast skies did not deter the crowd of seventy-five, who came to participate in the 5K run, or the fitness walk from Angel’s parking lot to the Wellness Center. Participants received a sweatshirt, water bottle and draw string bag and listened to guest speakers before diving into a healthy meal of grilled Tanka Dogs and buffalo burgers, beans, and fruit salad. The modular building, which includes stateof the art fitness equipment, a teaching kitchen, staff offices,and classroom, has been in the works for three years.
“It’s a dream I had, that came to life from the help and support of so many people. Everyone came together to help this project because each felt so strongly about prevention and the people. It seems everyone has someone in their family with diabetes and understands how the disease affects the whole family.” said Jo Ann Lehner, RN.
“To get this building and impact the community in a positive way.” Ms. Lehner credits her boss, Bill Pourier, tribal officials, and IHS staff, for offering her encouragement and support during the lengthy process.
Emily Good Weasel said that Ms. Lehner and her team have worked hard to bring the Center and its services to the community. “We want everybody to come out and be comfortable in the fitness center.” Ms. Lehner said that an elderly woman had approached her earlier in the day and was very moved when she learned of the day’s event because she had lost family members to diabetes. The Elder left and returned, handed an eagle feather to Ms. Lehner, and asked that the group walk with it that day in honor of people lost to diabetes.
Juanita Mendoza read aloud a letter from Indian Health Service Division of Diabetes and Treatment and Prevention Project OfficerGordon Quam, RN BSN, of Albuquerque, NM, who said that the people who reside in the community could benefit tremendously from the new facility. “Preventing diabetes is an opportunity for individuals to assess one’s wellness and make a commitment to make changes in areas of weight management, proper nutrition, and being active.”
Other speakers included Connie Brushbaker, RST Diabetes Prevention Program, Monica Macek, Pine Ridge I.H.S. Hospital Facility Manager, Cassandra West, Facility Engineer Consultant, Cal Clifford, Facility Engineer Consultant, and OST Council Member Jim Meeks. Members of the OST SDPI Fitness Center Team were also introduced, Steve Red Owl, Ray Janis (Kyle) and Beau LeBeau (Porcupine). Two local Kyle youth from Little Wound High School, Spur Pourier and Jerome Giuterrez, sang an honor song. Father Francis Apple and Adolph Bull Bear offered prayers.
“We want to thank everyone who came out to make the day a success; Irene & Arlene from O.S.T. Health Ed, OST Public Safety & Ambulance Service, both SDPI Programs staff, Kyle Maintenance crew, Phil Iron Cloud & Duane Big Crow for cooking, the Kyle community, especially the elders that came out to walk, Little Wound School, Kyle I.H.S. staff, KILI Radio and Lakota Country Times.
Ms. Lehner said that although many community members are diagnosed with diabetes, it doesn’t mean that their family members will end up with the illness. “There is a message of hope here in knowing that if you get screened early, you have an opportunity to prevent getting diabetes. Healthy lifestyle changes such as walking everyday and changing how we eat can make a big difference for you in your life. We don’t have to have diabetes in our families anymore.”
1st place Arlene Iron Cloud, 19.29
2nd place Jim Meeks, 19.43
3rd place Pebbles Red Fox, 19.78
4th placeMichelle Keith, 21.92
Photo by Emily Good Weasle