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A Spotlight on the Big Ways BGCA Serves Native Youth

boysandgirlsclubIn addition to serving youth in major cities nationwide, Boys and Girls Clubs of America (BBCA) maintains over 1,000 Clubs in rural areas. These include many communities on Native lands, which are home to American Indian, Alaska Native, American Samoan, and Hawaiian tribal youth. Along with the challenges that affect young people of all cultural backgrounds, those in Native communities often have unique needs that aren’t being addressed by local programs.

As part of a commitment to promote and expand youth development initiatives among Native kids and teens, BGCA established its Native Services arm in partnership with tribal leaders and other key stakeholders on tribal lands. Keep reading to learn more about BGCA Native Services and what it’s doing to improve the lives of Native youth.

 

Challenges Facing Native Communities

Across the United States, there are many self-governing Native American communities that are home to over 570 federally recognized tribes. Each of these groups has its own rich culture, heritage, language, and traditions. Unfortunately, many Native communities also face unique challenges that make it difficult for tribe members, including Native youth, to reach their full potential.

Although many young tribe members thrive and succeed in life, Native youth are among the most vulnerable populations in the country. In addition to experiencing high rates of poverty, a disproportionate number of Native youth face challenges related to physical and nutritional health, mental wellness, substance abuse, and education. A lack of local resources and the isolation of some Native communities can make these challenges even more difficult to overcome.

 

What BGCA Native Services Is Doing to Help

The mission of BGCA Native Services is to help Native youth reach their full potential while celebrating the particular strengths and cultural traditions of the country’s tribal communities. Since launching Native Services in 1992, BGCA has expanded its offerings to become the largest youth-serving organization on Native land. Today, more than 86,000 youth from over 100 tribes benefit from programming offered through nearly 200 Native Clubs nationwide.

Over the years, BGCA has built sustainable partnerships with tribal leaders and invested resources toward improving the capacity of professional staff and other leaders of Native Clubs. As with Club programs outside of Native communities, those implemented by BGCA Native Services focus on physical, social, emotional, and intellectual development. BGCA has also worked closely with local tribes and community leaders to develop programming specific to the needs and cultures of Native youth.

 

Native Services Club Programs

Native Services Club programs cover each of BGCA’s five core program areas: Character and Leadership Development; Health and Life Skills; Education and Career Development; the Arts; and Sports, Fitness and Recreation. Native Club youth take part in national BGCA programs such as All Stars, DIY STEM, My.Future, and Smart Moves.

Through the work of Native Services leaders, the curriculum of each of these programs has been adapted to be more reflective of Native American culture. BGCA also encourages all local Native Club leaders to create supplemental materials and activities to further reflect their own community’s unique culture and traditions. Native Services even created its Cultural Program Toolbox to make it easier for Clubs to build and implement culturally relevant services.

Along with adapting existing BGCA programming, Native Services has developed programs that are only implemented in Native Clubs. They include On the T.R.A.I.L (Together Raising Awareness for Indian Life) to Diabetes Prevention. This program aims to reduce the prevalence of Type 2 diabetes among Native communities through a combination of physical, nutritional, and educational activities.

 

Keeping the Momentum Going

More than 25 years after launching Native Services, BGCA continues to build momentum as the top youth agency on Native lands. As part of its Great Futures 2025 Strategy, which was developed in 2017, the organization has established four key priorities for its activities with Native youth.

Going forward, Boys and Girls Clubs will work to increase the quality of Native Club programs and leadership while advocating for Native youth development. The group will also focus on growing the number of Native Club members as it continues to expand and improve programming.

BGCA Native Services has received significant support in these efforts from corporate and nonprofit partners. This includes the Walmart Foundation, which donated $500,000 to help BGCA provide Native kids and teens with education on healthy lifestyles and nutrition. The funding is supporting education and Club improvements at over two dozen Clubs on Native lands.

BGCA also relies on the support of individual donors to continue its Native Services programming. Supporters can make a tax-deductible donation to the Native American Sustainability Fund to ensure that Native Clubs continue to thrive. Each dollar donated to the fund is used to increase Club sustainability, foster organizational growth, and provide training resources and technical support for Native Club leaders.

More information about BGCA Native Services and ways you can help is available at www.naclubs.org.

 

Disclaimer: This website contains general information about medical conditions and treatments. This information is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. No guarantee is given regarding the accuracy or validity of any statements or information provided on this website. Do not rely on this information as an alternative to medical advice from your doctor or another professional healthcare provider. You should seek immediate medical attention if you think you are suffering from a medical condition. You should never delay seeking medical advice, disregard medical advice, or discontinue medical treatment because of information on this website. 

AHA Highlights Advancements in Cardiovascular Disease Research in 2019

AHAlogoThe American Heart Association (AHA) has been behind some of the most important research breakthroughs related to heart disease and stroke care. Funding from the AHA has helped researchers to develop a better understanding of cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases, as well as to advance treatments that have improved and extended lives.

In addition to providing research funding, the AHA reports on the latest significant research advancements through press releases and other publications. One of these is its year-end list of leading research accomplishments, which it has compiled annually since 1996. This blog post offers a look at several discoveries in heart and stroke science highlighted by the association in 2019.

 

Improvement in Blood Pressure Control

It is well established that controlling one’s blood pressure is a key factor in preventing heart attack, stroke, and other cardiovascular conditions. Two research studies published in 2019 provided new insights on improving blood pressure control and underscored the importance of doing so.

A study published in the European Heart Journal in October 2019 suggested that bedtime might be the best time to take prescribed blood-pressure medication. According to the clinical trial, which involved over 9,000 patients with hypertension, taking all prescribed hypertension medications before bed rather than the next morning can improve ambulatory blood pressure (ABP) control and reduce one’s risk of a cardiovascular event by 45 percent.

Another study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) found that controlling blood-pressure might offer benefits that extend beyond cardiovascular health. Based on the results of a randomized clinical trial of individuals age 50 and over with high blood pressure, lowering systolic blood pressure to under 120 millimeters of mercury decreased the chances of mild cognitive impairment as compared to lowering it to under 140.

 

Insights from Gene Studies

lab study

Developing novel treatments for cardiovascular disease and prevention requires that researchers increase their understanding of the underlying factors contributing to the problem. In some cases, this can include looking at a person’s genetic makeup. Many researchers are examining the human genome, and their work is leading to new insights on heart disease and heart-related issues.

In 2019, researchers released the results of a study that shed light on genomic regions potentially linked to venous thromboembolism (VTE), a blood-clotting condition that affects between 300,000 and 600,000 Americans each year. The analysis, published in Nature Genetics, examined the DNA of over 650,000 people and led to the discovery of 22 new genomic regions in the human body that might overlap with VTE. Moreover, the journal Nature Medicine published the results of a study that identified 18 new regions of the human genome connected to peripheral artery disease (PAD).

Along with gene studies related to VTE and PAD, new gene research into pulmonary hypertension also emerged in 2019. For instance, the results of a study published in the AHA journal Circulation explained how the protein coding gene BOLA3 (BolA Family Member 3), plays a critical role in this type of hypertension. With this genetic knowledge, researchers can explore different avenues for treating the disease.

 

Evidence Reiterates the Importance of Physical Activity

The role that physical activity plays in keeping one’s heart healthy has been well understood for a long time. Recent research focusing on older women, however, has provided new insights into the importance of exercise for those in their senior years.

Two studies that appeared in Circulation and JAMA Network Open, respectively, examined groups of women averaging 79 years old who had no known history of stroke or myocardial infarction. In the first study, researchers found that reducing sedentary activity by as little as one hour a day could lower the risk of heart disease by 26 percent. The second study suggested that daily physical activity, even light activities such as walking and gardening, can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease and cardiovascular disease among older women.

 

Research Studies Drive Care Strategies

In addition to increasing the scientific understanding of heart disease and stroke, research drives shifts in care by furthering opportunities for new therapies and treatments. The AHA’s list highlighted the results of several such investigations published in 2019.

A study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that adults taking statins for elevated triglyceride levels might reduce their risk of stroke or another heart-related event by up to 25 percent by adding a fish oil derivative to their therapy regimen. Following this data, the Food and Drug Administration approved a new prescription form of the same fish oil derivative for treating elevated triglyceride levels. The medication is prescribed under the name Vascepa.

The New England Journal of Medicine also published studies focused on ST-Elevation Myocardial Infarction (STEMI) heart attacks and ischemic stroke. The study on heart attacks concluded that percutaneous coronary intervention, an artery-clearing procedure used for STEMI heart attacks and epicardial coronary artery obstructions, might have better long-term effects if performed to open and clear both the artery that caused the attack and other partially clogged ones.

In the study examining ischemic stroke, researchers determined that the clot-busting drug alteplase might be beneficial for some patients up to nine hours following the onset of symptoms. Previously, physicians generally believed that the drug needed to be administered within a four-and-a-half-hour window.

More information about these and other research advancements from 2019 can be found at http://www.heart.org.

 

Disclaimer: This website contains general information about medical conditions and treatments. This information is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. No guarantee is given regarding the accuracy or validity of any statements or information provided on this website. Do not rely on this information as an alternative to medical advice from your doctor or another professional health-care provider. You should seek immediate medical attention if you think you are suffering from a medical condition. You should never delay seeking medical advice, disregard medical advice, or discontinue medical treatment because of information on this website.