Project BRAID Has Launched!


C2DREAM's R01 Project 3, Project BRAID official launched in October 2023. Buiding Relationships Around Indigenous enDurance, is a community-driven implementation study led by Antony Stately, Katie Johnston-Goodstar, and Michele Allen. At its core, this project uses proven effective implementation strategies to successfully engage urban American Indian families in a culturally focused, evidenced-and-strengths based after school program to promote youth physical activity and healthy eating. Through sustained program engagement that connects participating American Indian youth and families to traditional Indigenous foods and cultural lifeways, Project BRAID will promote healthy eating and physical activity behaviors that will reduce future diabetes, obesity, and cardiometabolic / cardiovascular disease risk in this highly impacted community. In partnership with American Indian Education programs in both the Minneapolis and Saint Paul public school districts, Project BRAID successfully launched its programming within two schools across both districts back in October 2023.

Programming structure includes three days per week at each school site. The first day of programming are led by community leaders and Indigenous knowledge keepers who focus lessons on (re)connecting youth to healthy, traditional Indigenous lifeways and nutritional knowledge. The remaining two days are led by an Indigenous-led program, Twin Cities Native Lacrosse (TCNL). On the days led by TCNL, students not only learn about the cultural significance of The Creator’s Game (lacrosse), but they learn the many benefits to one’s overall wellbeing that physically playing the game has to offer. All three days, and their respective lessons, seamlessly woven together to form the Project BRAID program. Both overall participation and youth engagement with the program has been strong at our Saint Paul site and continue to steadily rise at our Minneapolis site!

Another unique aspect to Project BRAID includes our partnership with North American Traditional Indigenous Food Systems (NATIFS). Through this partnership, Project BRAID holds monthly family events for all participating youth and families. At these events, families receive a free food kit to bring home that includes Indigenous food items and recipe card. Moreover, families also receive a cooking demonstration of the food kit that is led entirely by NATIFS. Additionally, families can see first-hand what their youth are learning, build connections with one another, and engage with our program staff and community partners at these events. Through this connection to traditional Indigenous foods, cultural lifeways, and language; Project BRAID seeks to not only improve physical health outcomes amongst its participating youth and families, but overall community wellbeing and engagement. We look forward to our upcoming family events, the continuation and evaluation of programming in the weeks to come!


Youths picking up free food kits
Participating students bring home family food kits to make Three Sisters Bison Chili with their families!
Youths learning about lacrosse in a gym
John Hunter of Twin Cities Native Lacrosse shares a historical drawing with students during opening circle. The drawing depicts a Dakota lacrosse game being played on a frozen Minnesota River in 1848.
Students heading to sacred Indian Mounds Park
Community leader, Maggie Lorenz leads students to sacred Indian Mounds Park to throw the seed balls they made to help with land restoration efforts.
Students planting seeds in a garden
At Skidmore Community Garden, students took a tour of the garden; taste-tested different plants; and revisited their assigned plot to help prepare it for the upcoming winter!