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The Karuna Colectiva A Blog by reshawn edison

With the Karuna Colectiva, a student-based organization youth cooperative at the Native American Community Academy (NACA), we want to build a support system for building the foundation for our future. As a school based cooperative enterprise, we utilize the skills and resources of students and mentors to design, plan and implement events, products, and services. The Karuna Colectiva is going use bicycles to promote a healthy lifestyle not only for its members, but to also influence the community to start thinking critically of how we can grow, becoming healthier, while building a bond between students and educators. Karuna Colectiva is student-led and this gives each and every member a leadership role. We are motivated to passionately challenge ourselves to excel academically, and cultivate a humble, healthy holistic mindset. Together we paint pictures of our dreams, that will shape the start of our future.

High school Junior student member, Cris Chavira says this about the cooperative, “The colectiva really does help. It helps bring a better relationship with the school. It makes the community stronger.”

The students that are involved with this project have a huge impact on each other, and influence other students at NACA. This will and already has had a huge impact on each and every member of the Karuna Colectiva, bringing inspiration followed with passion, striving to become a success. The project also incorporates adult mentors to connect with NACA students to plan and design projects that impact not only the students, but larger community as well. Formal and informal mentorship opportunities help guide and give insight that can help create a sustainable enterprise. Mentors like Makhpiya Black Elk, and Jake Foreman, have years of experience creating programs and opportunities for boys and young men of color and helped create the Hiyupo boys group at NACA. The goal of this program is to promote healthy lifestyles through peer education, and field trips that exercise the mind, heart, body and spirit. This program will help our collective gain more leadership and mentorship experience. Together we are making sure that the students are academically prepared, secure in their identity and holistically healthy.

Cris also says that, “We can set short term goals for ourselves. We understand that we are not perfect, that's why we are setting goals for ourselves and gradually working up and becoming better”.

We know that the only way we are going to improve in anything we do is to actively work hard, and to work smart. We need to aid each other, whether that's weekly study sessions, hourly workouts, or even giving the time to acknowledge our thoughts and actions by supporting one and another.

From left to right: "Many Hands" Cooperative Development workshop, NACA Youth council meeting, Dialogue at the MBK convening and Prospero! Pitch

We as students use this cooperative as a tool to bring our peers, and the school community together. We are currently working on a pop up workshop to provide a market-­based learning laboratory that can evolve as a business incubator. This workshop serves as a model of excellence for a cooperative training and development. We hope to build our social network with other businesses and entrepreneurs to increase our reach and diversify our product. We will continue to hone our marketing and outreach to increase our internet commerce as well as share more about our collective work.

Another member of the Karuna Colectiva, 10th grader Raul Chavira said,“I really like the thought of bringing empowerment, and change to NACA students' way of thinking, focusing on how we can better ourselves.”

Raul is a caring and compassionate person who truly inspires his peers and people around him. As a group we participated in a meeting regarding how the school can incorporate more social and emotional wellness activities in student advisory classes. This is how we are actively moving in the direction where the Karuna Colectiva benefits everyone.

Together we promote physical health, and become academically prepared for college and beyond. We have been meeting as a group to discuss projects that can help increase our health, and basic mobility. Through focusing on bicycling, I hope to bring awareness around student health, and peer education. From this experience I was able to get a bike that helps me travel to and from school, promoting my physical wellness, and influence on my classmates. Using the collaborative thoughts of peer education, we hope to continue to work towards the common goal of being healthy emotionally, mentally, and physically. I'm excited to share my passion with others and also help my peers grow and reach their full potential. As a compassionate collective, we hope to work with other young men that are struggling, and need more support.

Author: Reshawn Edison (Diné), Senior at NACA Mentors: Jake Foreman and Makhpiya Black Elk
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Reshawn Edison
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