Zuni Youth Enrichment Project
PO Box 447
Zuni, NM 87327
We need you! As ZYEP continues to grow rapidly and take on many new projects, we rely on and very much appreciate the support of our generous donors and volunteers to continue to help our Zuni youth become Zuni leaders of tomorrow.Donate Now
Mission and Values
The Zuni Youth Enrichment Project (ZYEP) works to promote the development of healthy lifestyles and self-esteem among Zuni kids by providing them with opportunities to participate in empowering and enriching activities that will encourage them to grow into strong and healthy adults who are connected with Zuni traditions.
ZYEP envisions a Zuni community where every child is able to reach his or her full potential, to grow up healthy and prepared to lead future generations of Zunis. ZYEP strives to be a model organization setting the standard for engaging programming for Native youth.
ZYEP shares the CAS-Carrera belief that children should be viewed as “at-promise” instead of “at-risk” and that youth provided with engaging activities, self-esteem, positive role models, and hope for the future will make their own good decisions
ZYEP is a 501(3)(c) non-profit formed by local community members in 2008 to help make these opportunities possible on the Zuni Reservation. At ZYEP, we believe that given the right tools, youth will make healthy decisions that promote their physical and emotional wellness and enable them to reach their fullest potential.
ZYEP serves approximately 350 Native American children and families a year. ZYEP focuses on year-round programming through summer camps, sports leagues, school gardens, and after-school programming through fitness and nutrition as well as creating opportunities for adult preparation subjects such as financial literacy, success in school, and working with parents to be a part of it.
ZYEP’s youth soccer and basketball leagues have been a huge hit with more than 130 youth participating in our average season. In 2014, 12 basketball teams named after collegiate teams played in exciting and fast-paced games showing how much our youth have improved since the start of the league. Our soccer teams were named after World Cup teams allowing players to learn about different countries while they had a blast improving their soccer skills. Our DY MESA students provided nutrition education for our young players as well. This summer, ZYEP had our first ever ZYEP baseball league which was another huge success! During its inaugural year, the league drew over 135 youth and a group of highly committed volunteer coaches. Families loved coming out to watch their young players throughout the summer. We are looking forward to expanding soon to provide traditional dancing opportunities in the winter months. Much thanks to the Notah Begay III Foundation for making these leagues such a success!
A few short years ago, virtually no kids in Zuni had the chance to play soccer. Since the start of our teams in 2009, it has quickly become a very popular sport for Zuni youth and a great form of physical activity. Not only does our league include more than 100 players ago 6-12, but we’ve taken soccer a step further. Now up to 20 children showing exceptional interest and skills play on the traveling Thunder Strikers soccer team. The team has competed in tournaments throughout the state and fielded a girls’ and a boys’ team that competed in the Gallup league this fall. Traveling soccer gives Zuni youth the unique opportunity to put in the work and make the commitment to take their play to the next level. Congrats to the Thunder Strikers for all of their success so far.
Summer Camp 2014 was another great success! 65 youth participated in a summer of fun, learning, physical fitness, and Zuni culture. Despite a short summer, campers learned traditional Zuni dance, engaged in soccer clinics, tended the camp garden, and much more. The camp was even featured as the site of the Let’s Move in Indian Country national celebration. This year we were proud to welcome Kelly Chapman as co-coordinator with Chad Rail. Kelly worked her way up from camp counselor to the coordinator position and we are proud to have a camp alumnus leading the way!
DY MESA, ZYEP’s after school-program for middle school students, is going strong into year three! Students participate in fun and enriching activities each day after school, as well as weekends and school breaks. With help from First Nations, this year DY MESA students are tracing the Zuni Migration Path from the Grand Canyon all the way back to Zuni via a series of camping trips at key sites. Grand Canyon and Mesa Verde trips proved transformative for these students who learn from Zuni cultural educators along the way. Recently, DY MESA students also advocated for recycling ZPSD, learned canoeing and rock climbing in the Lifetime Individual Sports Component, and made money for their savings accounts by serving as peer educators teaching our young baseball and soccer players about good nutrition. DY MESA student art was even featured in a local gallery.
With support from the CDC and New Mexico Department of Health, ZYEP has worked with the Zuni Health and Wellness Coalition to create a series of 6 walking and running trails totaling 28.5 miles throughout the community. These trails are named after the Zuni directional system and include markers every 1/2 mile and inspirational phrases in Zuni to keep community members motivated. Different lengths and terrains accommodate a range of fitness levels. Our first marked bike trail is currently underway. Community feedback has been outstanding, noting what a difference marked trails make to motivation and feeling safe. Next time you are in Zuni, pick up a trail map and check out our trails!
ZYEP believes that reconnecting Zuni youth with traditional agricultural techniques is a great way to promote both healthy eating and cultural knowledge. In addition to the Summer Camp garden, which serves as a hands-on nutrition lab, ZYEP continues to develop school gardens in the community. We most recently added a garden at the Zuni Head Start program. ZYEP also plans on developing a community garden on land recently granted to ZYEP by the Zuni Tribal Council. The land is central to the main village and walking distance to a large number of local homes providing easy access to community members. By building on the success of our school garden program to bring hands-on nutrition education and cultural learning to the broader community, ZYEP hopes to increase the visibility of small-scale agriculture and inspire even more youth participation. With the help of our supporters, we look forward to expanding our programs to serve even more youth soon.