SANTA ANA PUEBLO –Notah Begay III, founder of the Notah Begay III Foundation, and U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-New Mexico) welcomed Native tribal leaders, health and wellness practitioners and youth to a roundtable discussion focused on Native youth health and wellness. Together they shared their perspectives on how to address the health and wellness challenges facing Native youth and also listened to attendee solutions and perspectives. In the end, prevention, accountability, measureable impact, investment and leadership priorities were among the top themes shared by participants.
“Access to good health care — and health education — is key to ensuring Native youth can focus in school and access opportunities to build a strong future,” Senator Udall said. “We must ensure Native communities have affordable health care not just to treat illness, but to prevent it. There is much we can do — and must do — including expanding broadband Internet to provide tele-health service to underserved rural and Native American communities.”
“One out of two Native children born since 2000 will develop type 2 diabetes in their lifetime,” said Notah Begay III. “If we do not fundamentally address this preventable disease, unfortunately we all know how this story will end.”
The time is now to help Native kids live healthy!
“The challenges facing many young Native Americans are great, but none is more fundamental than health problems which have their root cause in poor nutrition and lack of physical activity,” said Notah Begay III.
With passion in their voices, each committed to continue to support Indian Country in its efforts to address Native youth health and wellness. Senator Udall called for a “Marshall plan for children” that invests in programs to help lift New Mexico kids out of poverty. Udall has introduced a bill to do this, called the Saving Our Next Generation — or SONG — Act, which will support full funding for anti-poverty programs that work, including Medicaid, Head Start, child nutrition, home visiting services, and pre-school. Udall is also pushing for full funding for the Indian Health Service and the Bureau of Indian Education.