Throughout the country there are many organizations having to make tough decisions based on the current health crisis. COVID-19 pandemic has made it challenging for organizations, like the NB3 Foundation, who bring youth and community partners together for programming and strengthening community knowledge. We do our best work when we are together with our youth and community partners, so we knew finding safe and engaging ways to stay connected is a top priority.

One of our initiatives, the Native Youth on the Move (NYM) project – a partnership with the Nike N7 Fund – aims to increase the number of Native American youth (ages 7-18) participating in play, physical activity and sports, has used this time to “pivot” to a virtual stage.

Six Albuquerque-based organizations, and two pueblo communities, make up the NYM Community Team. Before the pandemic, the NYM Community Team met on a monthly basis to check-in, learn new skills and plan future collaborations. Being that we could no longer have in-person gatherings we pivoted to an online schedule using “Cyber Huddles.”

The goal of the NYM Cyber Huddles are still the same as the in-person gatherings — share, learn, and have fun! With the help of our community partners, such as New Mexico Health Equity Partnership, we are able to provide a quality online experience that provides Indigenous evaluation, communication and virtual programming tools/ideas.

One of the tools that was recently offered by Mabel Gonzalez, of Mavel Photography, was “Photovoice.” Photovoice is a Community Based Participatory Research (action research) methodology. Photovoice provides the opportunity for community members, that are often excluded from decision making processes, to creatively document their voices and vision about their lives, community and concerns. It ignites interest about important topics that are relevant within a community and allows a community to express themselves through photography.

The final Photovoice presentations were captured in this illustration by Taslim van Hattum, who is a graphic recording specialist, based in Northern New Mexico. Each Native Youth on the Move community partner took to the virtual stage to share a photo that tells the story of their work, vision, community and concerns. It was an uplifting, motivating and captivating celebration, and this illustration beautifully captures the passion and extraordinary work our community partners are doing to keep Native youth healthy and active.

Being able to provide a space for community partners to continue to share their progress and ideas means a lot to us at the NB3 Foundation. We miss our in-person time together with everyone, but we will continue to provide a fun, active, and engaging virtual experience for all of our youth participants and community partners.