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Innovative approach promotes fitness on Western reservation

Wind River Indian Reservation residents in Wyoming see fitness promoted on a series of Native American-focused billboards.

April 9, 2020

3 Min Read
University of Wyoming fitness billboard
RELEVANT MESSAGE: Using imagery aimed at the target audience, the University of Wyoming Cent$ible Nutrition Program is working to promote fitness on a reservation in the state.Steve Miller, University of Wyoming

Promoting health and fitness is important for any community. In the Native American community, however, with higher rates of obesity, diabetes and heart disease, the message his higher value. Yet how do you reach out to this targeted population?

For the state of Wyoming, the answer was two billboards posted from January through March on the Wind River Indian Reservation. One was located just south of Riverton, while the other was near Lander. The billboards depict John Pingree in a traditional dance with the message “Move Your Way Every Day.”

The billboards are a project of the Cent$ible Nutrition Program created by the University of Wyoming Extension. CNP is a free, income-qualifying cooking and nutrition education program in the state that aims to help people cook and eat better for less money.

According to Kelly Pingree, Extension educator on the WRIR (and wife of John Pingree), the aim was to raise the overall health of residents. She explains the issue: “We have such a pandemic of obesity, diabetes and heart disease, and that’s on pretty much any reservation. Since we’ve gotten colonized more than 180 years ago, our lives have gotten more sedentary. There is really not a lot of moving about, or having to work and hunt and gather like we used to.”

Pingree says her eyes were opened to how big the problem was on the reservation when she joined CNP in 2016. She added that a lot of Indian communities have really woken up to that issue. The challenge was working to get people to live more healthy lives.

Billboard idea started 2 years ago

Kelly Pingree joined a reservation group concerned about health and fitness as a CNP member. There were billboards on the reservation, but they promoted culture and native ways. Two years ago, she got an idea to use billboards to put out a culturally relevant health message.

“I thought it was a very good way to get out who we are and what we are doing out here,” she says.

Mindy Meuli, director of CNP, and Kali McCrackin Goodenough, CNP marketing coordinator, agreed with the idea. The three worked to develop a message and work on a design. Kelly Pingree notes that native people respond to messages that show “anything dealing with native.” The message needed to have a cultural or physical activity reservation residents could relate to.

Pingree remembered a photo of her husband taken at the Best of the Tetons event in Jackson Hole, Wyo. The photograph had been taken near their home and was featured in Cowboys and Indians magazine. It showed Pingree’s husband dancing in native garb; and when the billboard and design were shown to CNP participants, the feedback was positive.

Pingree said she believes community reaction has been good, and the CNP logo and message are becoming more recognized.

“I have had people come up and recognize John, and then some people who don’t,” she says. “And they see the CNP symbol up there. A lot of the community has taken notice we are trying to get healthy and physical. That’s also a U.S.-wide initiative. We are starting to work at getting us more healthy.”

Source: University of Wyoming, which is solely responsible for the information provided and is wholly owned by the source. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset.

 

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