New Orleans, LA -- The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) and Nike N7 announced a collaboration to promote health and education through physical activity within Native American communities as part of the First Lady's Let's Move in Indian Country initiative.
The announcement was made at the National Conference on Volunteering and Service, where 4,000 thought leaders, social entrepreneurs, and national service experts have gathered to discuss strategies to increase the impact of service and volunteering on pressing social problems.
Robert Velasco, Acting CEO of CNCS, and Sam McCracken, General Manager and Chairman of the Board of Nike N7, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) at the conference to support the deployment of AmeriCorps VISTA members to promote physical activity within Native American communities. Nike N7 is Nike's long-term commitment and comprehensive program to bring access to sport to Native American and Aboriginal communities. Through the MOU, Nike N7 will provide funding to engage VISTA members in promoting physical activity, engaging community assets and mentors to increase physical activity, advancing nutrition, and promoting continued education to meet needs expressed by the local community.
“We are very pleased to join with Nike N7 to increase opportunity within Native American communities by promoting healthy lifestyles for Native youth,” said Velasco. "The AmeriCorps VISTA members supported through this effort will help Native American youth be more active and healthy, which is a key step towards having more full, rich and healthy lives.”
“Nike N7 is committed to creating access to sport for Native American and Aboriginal youth, and I believe our collaboration with the Corporation for National and Community Service is an important way to create awareness—both inside and outside Native communities—for the need to inspire all youth in these communities to lead physically active lifestyles and be a force for positive change in generations to come,” said McCracken.
This collaboration supports the First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move in Indian Country campaign launched on May 25. The initiative aims to create a healthy start on life for children, create healthy learning communities, ensure families access to healthy, affordable, traditional foods, and increase opportunities for physical activity.
The partnership outlined in the agreement signed today has been in the making since May 2010, when Ron Lessard, CNCS Strategic Advisor for Native American Affairs, made a presentation to the Nike N7 Board of Directors proposing an alignment between Nike N7 and CNCS, citing their commonly-shared commitment to increasing opportunity within Native American communities.
The goal is to use the strengths and expertise of both organizations to improve and enhance the health and fitness of Native Americans throughout the United States. American Indians and Alaska Native people suffer health problems at rates that are significantly higher than in the general U.S. population. Diabetes rates are 2.6 times greater, cardiovascular disease is nearly double, and overweight and obesity rates are more than twice the rate for AI/AN school-aged youth than for their peers in the general population.