Southwest Indian Relief Council
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A Program of PWNA


Success Stories

 Overcoming with Exercise

Elders exercising

Fighting health disparities in Indian country is no easy feat and it takes many people and many resources to have a positive impact. Disparity is defined as inequality; a difference in condition, rank; a lack of equality as of opportunity, treatment, or status

  • The Dine (aged 20 to 54) are four times more likely to have diabetes than non-Navajos;
  • Over 40% of adults’ deaths are caused by diabetic complications (Indian Country Today 11/2007);
  • American Indian/Alaska Natives die at higher rates than other Americans from diabetes (Indian Health Service-Facts at a Glance).
Elders exercising

Cottonwood staff and Elders understand the importance of decreasing these disparities and taking their health into their own hands.

Prior to a lunch of Menudo and Posole, our Program Partner passed out a kettlebell to each Elder from a large wicker basket. The Southwest Indian Relief Council (SWIRC) Program provided the kettlebells. The Cottonwood staff provided the enthusiasm. Simple instructions given to the Elders in Navajo helped the group follow the pre-meal calisthenics.

Staff-led exercises are commonplace in many of the senior centers located throughout Southwest Indian Reservations.

We partner with many of these centers. Kettlebells, yoga mats, and exercise videos/DVDs are just a few of the items that we have distributed in Indian country to support the services and the community in these group experiences.

Even the Center of Communicable Diseases (CDC) highlights the importance of community involvement.

A CDC handout entitled, “Achieving Greater Health Impact” provides ways that individuals and groups can eliminate health disparities. Under the topic, “Community,” you can see ways you can make a difference.

Elders exercising with kettleballs
  • Join with others to promote community-wide health activities and campaigns for healthier lifestyles;
  • Form alliances with tribal organizations, schools, youth groups and Elders, and traditional healers to advocate for community-friendly health programs;
  • Support health policies and programs that respect tribal values and culture.

Sadly, the large watermelons were half eaten by the birds. They apparently appreciated her harvest, but Irene and her son asked for more ways to keep the birds at bay so they could enjoy the watermelon too.

Through the generosity of donors, we are able to work in collaboration with Program Partners to help promote these types of activities for healthier communities.

Thank you!


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