Healthy Kids, Bringing Balance to Diabetes

Oyate Waokiyan Win emaciyapi ye. Hunkapit Dakota na Oglala Lakota. Cante waste nape ciuzapi ye. I greet you with a heartfelt handshake, my name is She Helps Her People, and I am Crow Creek Dakota and Oglala Lakota. My birth name is Lynn Marie Cuny; I am 32 years old. I was born and raised in Rapid City, SD and am the eldest grandchild of Doreen Amiotte Dobyns, Gary Dobyns, Katherine Fleurry, and Ray Cuny. I am the eldest child of Lisa Dobyns and Terry Cuny. 

I am excited at the chance to bring all of my life and work experiences together to help National Relief Charities develop a wellness curriculum for Head Start children and families of my home community of the Crow Creek Reservation. Currently, I work with a Special Diabetes Prevention Program as a Health Technician assisting people who are pre-diabetic. I am also a certified personal trainer and a former Head Start teacher for Pine Ridge Reservation. All of these experiences will help in implementing the General Mills grant awarded to NRC, but I feel that my life experience may help the most.  

I didn’t always work in the health field; my path was changed drastically when I was challenged by my Uncle Jay.  At age 8, he had insulin dependent juvenile onset diabetes. Eventually both legs were amputated from diabetic infections. At 36, he was in a nursing home recovering from heart surgery when he asked me to do something for him… “Don’t become a diabetic.” I kind of laughed him off.  I was hovering 300 pounds at the time. I didn’t think being a diabetic was a choice, because I had already experienced many factors associated with diabetes: blackouts caused by high blood pressure, numbness in my hands and feet, poor eating habits, and a sedentary lifestyle.

Ten years later Uncle Jay has passed on, but I continue to fulfill his wish. I am at a healthy weight. I eat healthy and enjoy many types of exercise and activities. I am looking forward to encouraging other Crow Creek members toward the healthier lifestyle that I achieved. I do not feel that I would be successful in carrying this message of “balance” if I had not lived it. I want to encourage people to lose weight because they are putting stress on their body, not because they should be worrying about how they look to other people. I also want young children to know they have a choice and that exercise and nutrition go together. 

My wish? Getting the participants of Crow Creek Head Start educated and aware that diabetes is preventable. Taking ownership and going back to who we were as Native people. Being a people that can live in balance and sustain a healthy lifestyle. Only eating what we need to fuel our bodies and being role models of good choices for our younger ones. This is my request, and my hope with the Champion for Healthy Kids project: “To get back to the balanced way.”

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  9. Posted September 25, 2014 at 1:13 am | Permalink

    Years ago, I read an article in Indian Country Today by a Native American nurse. I believe that she was Apache (?). She learned about nutrition while studying to become a nurse. She remembered how different her ancestors diet had been. Also, they were physically active. When she returned home, she encouraged her people to go back to the old ways, as far as, diet and exercising. They started doing various activities of their ancestors and ate the foods. Some went off insulin. Others off of diabetic medications. Various types of side effects from diabetes changed for the positive. Other diseases decreased or were eradicated, as well. Eventually, their tribe had about 10 diabetics left. Maybe, all of us should go back to preparing our food and eating the old ways, plus exercising. Our people were not sedentary and ate unprocessed foods without additives, preservatives, artificial flavoring or coloring. It will be hard. But, living healthy and not dying early is worth it.

  10. Posted March 12, 2016 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

    A motivating story, I’m glad how you managed to overcome the disease.
    an example for many

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