Published January 14, 2016
EAGLE BUTTE, SOUTH DAKOTA-Although it’s hard to imagine in the depths of winter, spring is around the corner. And that means teenagers across the country are already thinking of that one special occasion that has become an American rite of passage. The prom.
Yet on South Dakota’s remote, 2.8-million-acre Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation, excitement for prom season can be tempered by hard realities. Here, most families cannot spare the funds for formal wear and accessories, nor can they manage the three- to five-hour round-trip drive for a shopping trip in Pierre or Rapid City. That’s why the Cheyenne River Youth Project® launched Passion for Fashion in 2001.
“We want to ensure that every teenage girl can make her prom dreams come true,” said Julie Garreau, CRYP’s executive director. “But Passion for Fashion means even more than that. This special one-day event is about developing positive self-esteem and self-confidence, bonding with other teens, and sharing a major life experience with the women in your life, from mothers and sisters to aunties and grandmas.”
This year’s Passion for Fashion event will take place on Saturday, March 12 at CRYP’s Cokata Wiconi (“Center of Life”) teen center. And for the eighth year in a row, the daylong event will feature a special theme; past years’ themes have included Old Hollywood Glamour, Juicy Couture, Alice in Wonderland, Fashion Week, The ‘80s: Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, International Women’s Day, and Graffiti & Street Art. This year’s theme: “The Force Awakens.”
“Our teens love the new Star Wars movie, so it’s definitely timely,” Garreau said, “and we love that the movie has such a strong female lead. Rey is resourceful, independent and fearless. She works hard, she stands up for what’s right, and she consistently demonstrates good morals and standards. She’s a powerful role model for young girls.
“We also embrace the idea that you have the power to choose your own path in life,” she continued. “You can nurture connectedness with others and the world around you — and when your inner strength, character and self-love truly awaken, you are a force to be reckoned with.”
At Passion for Fashion, Cheyenne River’s teens will take part in a formal luncheon and hear a keynote speaker; receive manicures, pedicures, makeovers, and hair styling; find their dream dresses, shoes, and accessories; and celebrate their transformed selves on a formal catwalk. Along the way, they’ll share stories and laughter with staff, volunteers, family members and each other — and make priceless memories that will last a lifetime.
All high-school girls on the Cheyenne River reservation receive personalized invitations to Passion for Fashion, and junior-high girls are welcome to attend as well. CRYP also welcomes teens from the nearby Standing Rock reservation, and from border towns such as Faith, South Dakota. Family members are encouraged to attend with their teens.
“Passion for Fashion has become so special to us largely because multiple generations of Cheyenne River women attend the event,” Garreau said. “We’ve also been thrilled to see how the teens support each other as they address such difficult issues as low self-esteem, poor body image and bullying.