Thanks to the faithful support of friends of Holbrook Indian School (HIS), two Navajo students had the opportunity to attend the International Inside Out conference for the Children & Nature Network in Atlanta, Georgia. The trip allowed Quentina, an HIS junior, and Kayla, a senior, to present a poster about their involvement in planning Holbrook Indian School’s annual Outdoor School adventures. The trip to Georgia provided many firsts for Natives Kayla and Quentina: first time at a professional conference; first time on an airplane for one of them; first time presenting to adult professionals; and the first time navigating a big city using public transportation.
Kayla and Quentina created a poster and displayed it at the conference with the facilitation of English teacher and Outdoor School coordinator Anita Ojeda. In one afternoon, the students answered questions for three hours about Holbrook Indian School and the real-life skills they’ve learned by actively participating in planning Outdoor School, a yearly seven-day school trip to a National Park held by HIS at the beginning of the school year.
Kayla and Quentina wore their traditional Navajo regalia when presenting. This opened the door for conference attendees to ask them about their culture and experiences growing up indigenous. When Kayla told an attendee about Holbrook’s gardening program, she learned about networking and building community with other groups who experience similar barriers to enjoying outside activities.
Students chose and attended different conference sessions, where they learned about fun outdoor activities for young children, the importance of advocating for change, the impact of spending time in nature on healing trauma and improving mental health, and the importance of decolonizing history.
The Children & Nature Network, founded by Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder, seeks to help educators, government entities, city planners, mental health professionals, and parks and recreation departments work together to ensure every child has an opportunity to spend time in nature.
When the conference ended, the HIS group visited the Georgia Aquarium to learn more about animals and ecosystems they don’t see in Arizona.
These student experiences could not happen without the faithful contribution of HIS supporters. Thank you for continuing to make Holbrook Indian School a place of opportunities for Native youth.
By Anita Ojeda