YMCA Indian programs help strengthen families

The program targets fathers and their children.

Ya Ta Hey!

Sound familiar? It is a well-known cry of the East Dallas YMCA Indian Guides/Princesses Program. The term is used frequently when we get together. We “Ya Ta Hey!” to say “hello”, “good-bye”, “nice job”, “try again” and any other time we need an exclamation. It is one of the ties that bonds participants in this program.

The program targets fathers and their children. It seems that the American Indian father sees himself as a teacher and raises his children to understand the importance of life. The Indian program was established to put these strong qualities of the American Indian into the heart of relationships between fathers and their children.

The theme is: “Pals Forever, Friends Always.” The program’s primary focus is to provide a one-on-one relationship with the parent and child. A major emphasis is put on learning about American Indian culture, endurance, spirituality, feeling for the earth and concern for family.

The program is designed to foster an everlasting bond with each other. This program is not just a children’s program: it truly benefits the parent, as well. I have seen many fathers grow personally from their experiences and have heard testimony that the program fosters stronger family relations in the home.

The Indian Guides/Princesses program is for boys and girls in kindergarten through second grade. A father and his child form a tribe with other fathers and children. Each tribe becomes a part of the East Dallas Nation.

The tribes meet monthly to bond and achieve certain goals for the Indian program. Once a month, the tribes also attend a nation event. These events include: Tee Pee Day, dads and children build tee-pees to signify their tribe; camp-outs, overnighters in tents and cabins; bowling and skating events; a Father Son/Father Daughter Banquet; and events that include the whole family. Fathers get to play games with their children, dress up in Indian lore, sing songs and teach their children life-long skills.

The East Dallas YMCA is offering two new programs this year. The first program is the Papoose for the 4- and 5-year old pre-kindergarten child. The Papoose program will have the same theme as the Indian program except the events will appropriate for this age.

The second is the Trailblazers for children in third and fourth grades who want to explore and participate in backpack trips, camping expeditions, canoe trips and visit Indian reservations.

Working with the families in the East Dallas community is the best job in the world. I get to bear witness to the relationships that derive from this program and at the same time provide support.

If you would like further information on any YMCA program, or have ideas about family programming, call me at 824-8139.

Ya Ta Hey!


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