The Project HOPE Mobile Clinic and staff attended the two-day Gathering of Nations event last month at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, providing retinal screenings, A1c and blood glucose testing, diabetes health education and blood pressure and Body Mass Index testing.
More than 500 tribes from around the world were represented at this annual event that helps promote Native American, American Indian (indigenous) culture and tradition and dispel stereotypes. Project HOPE staff provided health services to more than 180 people during the two-day event.
Bonita Baxter (Cherokee), a health educator for Project HOPE participated in the Gathering of Nations event both as a Project HOPE educator and a dancer. Originally from Minnesota, Baxter specializes in the utilization of traditional Native American games to help prevent diabetes/obesity in New Mexico. “Traditional dancing is a great form of exercise and a great way to educate the Native American population about obesity and diabetes prevention,” she says.
Baxter has been participating in dance competitions for over eight years. This is her first time at the Gathering of Nations. Preparing for the “Women’s Fancy Shawl” dance competition not only takes lots of practice, her dress took seven months to design and complete. On Baxter’s dress, the color blue representing water and green triangles representing the mountains and forest, surrounds a sun symbol, representing a new beginning. For Baxter, she hopes her example will spark a new beginning of healthy “Habits for Life” for those she educates.
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