“Being able to come full circle in an event like this is so exciting, as a younger youth I participated in the annual Ingenious Games and now I got to help make this day possible for the youth of my community” said UNITY Peer Guide Leticia Lucille Gonzales, “It makes me proud that they are still as excited about the event as I used to be.” As a Peer Guide ambassador Gonzales often assists with local drug and alcohol free activities for youth. The annual “Jr. Indigenous Games” in the Community of Bishop, CA, was their creative take on Alaskan Games engaging Native youth in wellness as cultural prevention.
Leticia Lucille Gonzales 22, is an enrolled member of the Bishop Paiute Tribe in Bishop, California and resides on the Bishop Paiute Reservation. This year, “Jr. Indigenous Games” included the one foot high kick and two foot high kick, as well as, atlatl, softball throw, hand slap, stick pull, and foot race. According to Gonzales “this is a very anticipated event by the youth, a place where they can showcase they agility and improvement throughout the year.” Research shows efforts to reduce and prevent substance abuse with Native youth should incorporate local expertise and knowledge, build on strengths and resources within the communities, and integrate unique cultural practices (Brown, Baldwin, & Walsh, 2012). Peer Guide Gonzales worked with the local tribal TANF organization, Bishop Indian Education Center, and Toiyabe Family Services to help make this event possible.
After attending her first National UNITY Conference in 2011 Gonzales was inspired by the work Native Youth were doing and returned to her community eager to help make a difference in Indian Country. Currently Leticia works in her community as the Youth Prevention Worker at the Toiyabe Indian Health Project’s Family Services Department. Being very passionate that Culture is prevention Leticia is motivated to share the many teachings of her tribe and tribal elders to Native Youth, and can’t wait to travel to your community as a UNITY Peer Guide bringing UNITY closer to you. The Toiyabe’s Family Services department, shares a similar mission: to strengthen Native American families and communities by providing professional therapeutic counseling tailored to the needs of our patients, with a strong emphasis on cultural and traditional activities. Gonzales is an active supporter of the UNITY Bishop Tribal Youth Council, which began in 2010 and meets twice a month to engage Native youth leadership development. The Bishop Tribal Youth Council is an active part of UNITY Inc. and assists Native youth to reach the full potential.
As a Peer Guide, Gonzales holds an youth advisory role for the Healing Indigenous Lives Initiative, made possible by a cooperative agreement (2018-TY-FX-K002) between UNITY, Inc. and the US Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. UNITY, with its trainers, youth guides, and mentors will offer regional trauma-informed youth leadership development trainings over the next two-years. These peer led asset mapping, youth advocacy and movement building workshops will collect Native youth feedback, from those who have been impacted by trauma and the Juvenile Justice system.
For More Information, or to request a Peer Guide participate in a regional youth training, contact Program Manager LorenAshley Buford at firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com or Call UNITY National Headquarters: 480-718-9793