The SuAnne Big Crow Boys and Girls Club celebrated its 20th anniversary this past weekend in Pine Ridge, SD. The event commemorated not only the founding of the club, but the myriad ways in which it has benefited the Oglala Sioux community.
The SuAnne Big Crow Boys and Girls Club has served as a haven for Pine Ridge Indian Reservation children for the past two decades. The reservation is frequently ranked among the poorest counties in the United States, with 48.9% of its children living below the poverty line. The club provides much needed outlets for reservation students: offering daily homework hours, open gym nights, and sweat lodge ceremonies. Such activities support the mental, physical and spiritual health of attendees. The club also promotes positive life choices, providing diabetes prevention programs, and initiatives aimed at reducing gang affiliation and youth criminal activity. A number of studies demonstrate the efficacy of Boys and Girls Clubs in reducing negative behaviors in children and teens.
The first of its kind to open in Indian Country, the club paved the way for the emergence of similar youth oriented programs in Native American communities across the country. There are currently 200 Boys and Girls Clubs serving 88,000 Native American youth in the United States, according to the club.