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The Power of Culture and Family to Prevent Teen Pregnancy and Substance Use

The Asdzáán Be’eená (“Female Pathways” in Navajo) program bolsters cultural protective factors for Native American girls ages 8-14 to help ensure they have a safe, healthy transition through adolescence and into adulthood. The program engages girls ages 8-11 along with their mother or another female caregiver, and is currently being evaluated in two Navajo communities to assess its effectiveness at reducing risky behaviors associated with teen pregnancy and substance abuse. Developed by and for Navajo families in partnership with the Center for American Indian Health, Asdzáán Be’eená is unique in that it is specific to Navajo traditions and culture, but is designed to be able to be adapted by other tribes.  

The program has been described by participants as a ray of hope during the COVID pandemic. One participating mother said, “This program taught me how to cope. It goes back to family values, and now we communicate with each other more.” Another stated, "This program has opened a lot of pathways between my daughter and me. She expresses herself more and feels more comfortable talking to me."

Read more about Asdzáán Be’eená.

Navajo Youth COVID-19 Vaccine PSA


Navajo Nation has gone from being one of the areas in the U.S. most impacted by COVID-19 to one of the areas with the highest COVID-19 vaccine coverage. Hear from these young Navajo about their experiences and motivations to protect themselves, their families, and their communities. Video production on-location by John Hosteen II.

Linked below are some of the materials posted recently on the Center’s web-based resource library about vaccines for youth, thanking youth leaders for getting vaccines, and getting back to life after COVID-19.

Launch of Indigenous Stories of Strength

With support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Center for American Indian Health has launched an initiative called Indigenous Stories of Strength, which will highlight stories of Indigenous strength and survival and illuminate leadership in the incredible and innovative responses to the COVID-19 pandemic by Indigenous peoples in the U.S. This work is guided by an intertribal curatorial team convened to steer the project and review stories that are submitted. It will culminate in a virtual showcase and celebration of these stories in fall 2021 that highlights the innovations, cultural teachings and collective action of Indigenous communities to promote wellness of all forms during the pandemic, such as community leaders who enacted creative policies to promote wellness, Elders who developed innovative ways of connecting, artists who inspired hope and collective action, and youth groups that cared for others.

Read more indigenousstrengths.com.

Record number of Native American Masters and Doctoral students attending Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Participants in the “COVID-19 & Infectious Disease Outbreaks in Native American Communities” course during Summer Institute 2020

2020 was an unprecedented year for all of us, and our Center’s Scholarship and Training Program was no exception. The past year challenged our team to create online courses, adapt or develop new curriculum that could be managed by remote students, learn various online teaching platforms and tools, and work harder than ever to make sure that all graduate and Institute students felt engaged in classes and supported throughout the year. A total of five courses were moved online and had 109 student participants representing more than 15 tribal nations. The virtual format allowed us to provide course access to students who otherwise would not have been able to join.

We are also excited to have reached a new record in terms of the number of incoming Indigenous students at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health to date. This summer, our Center will welcome ten new Indigenous scholars and welcome back two returning scholars. These students include four PhD students, two DrPH students, and six masters students from across the country and world, including a First Nations masters student from Canada, as well as a Māori doctoral student from New Zealand. We are also thrilled to announce that one of our incoming masters students was awarded the highly competitive Bloomberg Fellowship to pursue her MPH. Our Center is proud to help sponsor support and mentor these students and serve as an extended family to them while they pursue their graduate public health training.

Read more about our training program.

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