At ADYC, we are committed not only to providing a place for youth in crisis, we are interested in weaving a tapestry of support before they are at risk of crisis. One of the ways we do that is by offering our Ninijanisag program, which is focused on prevention and education. One of our time-honored Ninijanisag traditions is sweats. The Sweat Lodge is a place of spiritual refuge, and mental and physical healing, a place to get answers and guidance by asking spiritual entities, totem helpers, the Creator and Mother Earth for the needed wisdom and power.
Though our program has always offered opportunities such as these, previously the youth would come and participate, but they were not always learning all the important steps to make the ceremony happen. We have put a lot of our energy into changing this and ensuring the youth know how to build the sweat, start the fire, select the rocks, and when to sing which songs. They are more comfortable praying aloud than ever before, and they all have talked about the relationship they are developing with the Creator. I am confident that these youth are going to be leaders in our community and have a good understanding of who they are culturally and spiritually thanks to these types of experiences.
We are pleased to report an increase in lodges from previous years, which have allowed our youth to grow more spiritually than ever before. They have participated in lodges at a variety of ceremonies, including Sundance. We had seven youth participate in lodges for the very first time this year. With the inclusion of the Sundance the youth have learned a variety of songs that are sung in the lodge, and it is inspiring to hear them all sing when they close the door and start the ceremony.