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Sep 05

Katya Slater-Szirom

Native American Youth Program Puts Nike's N7 Fund to Good Use

Posted by Katya Slater-Szirom

For the average shopper, Nike’s N7 collection offers a trendy selection of brightly colored athletic gear. What most shoppers might not know, however, is that 100 percent of Nike's profits from each purchase helps to offer more opportunities for Native American youth to live a healthy life.

Nike’s N7 line of athletic apparel includes running shoes, jackets, tights, ponchos and other active wear that feature Native American influenced designs. Profits from each purchase help fund grants for Native and Aboriginal youth programs across the nation.

Washington State native and elite athlete Temryss Lane is one of Nike’s N7 brand ambassadors. Also a member of the Lummi Nation, she said the youth soccer camps that the tribe hosts draw in hundreds of kids. Encouraging native youth and offering opportunities to be active in a safe environment are at the core of the N7 Fund.  

“The ultimate goal is to create access to sports for native youth who otherwise face many barriers to sports and education. Sports are invaluable to our youth, who are reclaiming their identity through sports and all its benefits to wellness,” Temryss said.

Each year, eligible organizations are encouraged to apply for N7 Fund grants. A select number of applicants receive funding for the following year.

Among the recipients is Camp Thunderbird South Dakota, a non-profit summer camp that serves youth from the American Indian reservations in south central South Dakota. Kate Bartholomew, the camp’s board president, said it costs about $24,000 to run camps for up to 60 children. Each year since 2013, the N7 Fund has awarded the organization approximately $5,000 annually, helping to cover nearly one quarter of their funding.
Photo of children who participated in Camp Thuderbird's 2016 summer program in South Dakota.

Like other native youth organizations that receive N7 Fund awards, Camp Thunderbird uses this money to get children active outside. Most of the children, many of whom are struggling obesity, don’t have the financial means to do any other activities during the summer, making Camp Thunderbird a vital part of their ability to stay healthy and active. In fact, the children’s school teachers frequently tell board members that the kids share memorable stories about Camp Thunderbird when they return to their classrooms in the fall.

Camp Thunderbird takes its native youth on overnight camping trips, where they can hike, swim and fish. Custer State Park is a favorite go-to spot for the children to explore and sightsee. Other times, the children visit batting cages or play basketball. Basketball is widely popular on the reservations in South Dakota, Kate said. The campers even have the opportunity to visit South Dakota School of Mines & Technology or Black Hills State College for an overnight visit, where they swim in its Olympic-sized pool and play sports at the rec center. No matter what the conditions, the children always have a blast.

"I’ve helped run a camp where over 100 degrees and I’ve never heard a kid complain in five years. They’re so appreciative,” Kate said.

Kate said they hope to start offering three-night “mini camps” this year for middle school students, where participants can pick from one of three themes: science, outdoor adventure, or arts and music. Without the support from the N7 Fund, new programs like this wouldn’t be an option.

To support the N7 Fund, stop by Swinomish Golf Links, or another Nike N7 retailer, and purchase anything from the line of merchandise. For more information on the N7 Fund, or to donate directly to the fund and help support native youth programs across the nation, please visit: https://donatenow.networkforgood.org/niken7.

Get your Nike N7 gear at Swinomish Golf Links!