“Opportunity for Unity: Our Home is Here” Initiative
Native youth voice is powerful. One way of expressing that voice is through the adoption of a national initiative by the National UNITY Council (NUC). The initiative paves the way for UNITY youth and others to take part in a special movement and to help make an impact in Indian Country. After much reflection by the NUC’s affiliated youth councils and elected youth leaders, UNITY is pleased to announce “Opportunity for Unity: Our Home is Here” initiative.
This focus of this initiative is to ensure more Native youth experience the magic of UNITY. Specifically, youth councils are being challenged to invite youth who are part of the Native American foster care system and may have never had the opportunity to attend a National UNITY conference. The topic of Native American foster youth hits close to home for many young people. Nationwide, American Indian and Alaska Native children are placed into foster care at a rate 2.7 times greater than their proportion in the general population, according to the National Indian Child Welfare Association (NICWA).
“Once youth experience UNITY, we know they will have a family and a home FOREVER.”
Members of the NUC’s Executive Committee pushed hard for the initiative after learning how their peers in the Foster Care System often are overlooked or are not given the opportunity to live in their community, and to be a part of everything that it has to offer them. “As members of the 2018-2019 Executive Committee, we recognized the need to advocate for this issue and we got to work quickly. We grew up within this organization and we want to introduce those in foster care systems to the atmosphere that UNITY provides,” said Joseph Davis, NUC Co-President. The NUC Executive Committee is now promoting its call to action by encouraging youth councils to consider inviting one or more foster youth to attend the National UNITY Conference as part of their groups.
The initiative supports UNITY’s Mission, which is to foster the spiritual, mental, physical, and social development of American Indian and Alaska Native youth and to help build a strong, unified, and self- reliant Native America through greater youth involvement. UNITY has approximately 276 affiliated youth councils around the United States, many of which take part in UNITY’s national conference every year. “UNITY has an impressive track record at bringing many Native youth together to inspire, network, and to feel like they belong and we feel that many Native American foster youth need to be able to experience all of these things as well,” Davis added. ‘We are very passionate about this movement, and we hope you can all help us make it a great success for these foster youth. Once these youth experience UNITY, we know they will have a family and a home FOREVER. We are encouraging all of our UNITY youth and supporters to join us in putting our foster youth first by giving them an opportunity to experience the 2019 National UNITY Conference in Orlando, Florida this July.”