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Wellness and Balance. What Does It Mean to You?

By YWCA of Minneapolis
January 26, 2016
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Krina Altoro is a Strong Fast Fit Latino Lead Counselor at the YWCA of Minneapolis.

Wellness and Balance; what does it mean to you? It can mean different things for different people; especially in different cultures.  For me it is eating to nourish our body, staying active, being spiritually connected and finding wisdom every day. Two of my colleagues and I recently had the unique experience to participate in a culturally responsive training that would give us the necessary skills, tools and experience to lead the next generation of native youth leaders to find that wellness path.

In the beginning of December we flew to sunny San Diego, CA.  As I walked through the slushy wintry mix to catch the light rail that would take me to the airport I couldn’t help but think of the journey ahead – How I was fortunate to be leaving behind the winter and would quickly join the warm sun and ocean. I came to find out that the location was very intentional and an integral part of the training.  All of the necessary elements were in place to help us as trainers to “walk the talk”, to find the path to wellness ourselves. Native wellness is holistic in nature. This training was developed to embrace the traditions and teachings of the native ancestors.

Many native people have been on a wellness path for a long time. I had been invited to join a group of youth workers from all over the nation to be trained by the Native Wellness Institute (NWI). Their work is both nationally and internationally recognized and has worked to bring all indigenous people together. The specific curriculum we used during the training included lessons in living a balanced life, traditional values, healthy communication, healthy relationships, healthy sexuality, traditional leadership, decision making, healing historical trauma and living with vision.  These lessons were created to train people from all over the country – people just like me and the staff from the Girls and Youth department who are working to build leadership skills, promote growth and a successful transition into adulthood for our youth here in Minneapolis.

This curriculum has been rigorously reviewed and field-tested by NWI’s Advisory Committee, Native trainers, elders, service providers, and communities representing a diversity of Indian country. NWI’s training recognizes the great impacts of historical trauma and oppression on indigenous people.  The understanding that historic trauma has caused contemporary trauma in families and communities is crucial when working with the youth we serve. Understanding this will help the Strong Fast Fit staff lead and support the youth on their own wellness journey wherever they are.

Wellness is a continually evolving process in which an individual actively strives to become healthier by finding and living in balance. This curriculum fits perfectly with the Strong Fast Fit mission to motivate and facilitate healthier habits in the youth with which we work. Living a balanced life means being the best that we can be and to always move forward in a positive way. It’s exciting to add this curriculum to the already fulfilling and exciting work we do every day here in Strong Fast Fit.