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Success stories

Zuni Youth Enrichment Project Creates Culture Despite COVID


The Zuni Youth Enrichment Project (ZYEP) has been a PCA partner since 2019, providing workshops for parents, athletes, and coaches since that time. Protected by its geographic isolation in western New Mexico, Zuni remains one of the most traditional Native American tribes in the United States.

The Zuni language, religion, traditions, and art are an integral part of daily life. ZYEP exists to pursue their mission by offering empowering and enriching activities that encourage youth to grow into strong and healthy adults who are connected with Zuni traditions. They believe that every child should be able to reach his or her full potential.

Zuni Youth Enrichment Project was looking for a way to run a traditional cross-country season in a year that's been anything but traditional, so they cultivated a league in which their youth were placed onto "teams" and assigned a coach. Team meetings were held and practice plans were provided, but when it came time to compete, athletes were responsible for all of their own timing and reporting of race times

Team competition was changed to be based on averages instead of pure step count totals, and for Saturday morning competitions, ZYEP ended up not holding people to the rules around getting disqualified if they didn't perform in their half an hour slot.

In speaking with Josh, I was amazed by their ability to adapt and still provide an environment that was competitive and encouraged personal growth and improvement at the same time, while not being able to foster a traditional team culture in person.

Keenan Bigg
PCA Senior Program Manager

"Families seemed to need a bit more flexibility and we were more interested in promoting youth being active than holding families accountable to tight timeframes. We provided each team with custom shirts, masks, and other personal items for running. We used pedometers that were user friendly for youth and we provided extra pedometers for youth participants' families."

Josh Kurdna
Physical Activity Coordinator, Zuni Youth Enrichment Project

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