Family Enrichment and Wellness Retreat inspires healthy life habits

By Social Services staff

The Ho-Chunk Nation Department of Education - School Community Relations, the Ho-Chunk Nation Department of Social Services - Division of Community Supportive Services, and Division of Child and Family Services, recently collaborated to put on the first annual Ho-Chunk Nation Family Enrichment and Wellness Retreat on June 13, 14, and 15, 2018. 
This inaugural event was held at Champions Riverside Resort in Galesville, Wisconsin, with one hundred families participating in the events planned.  Many of the participating families elected to brave the great outdoors and camp during the event!
Registration occurred on Wednesday, June 13 and Ho-Chunk Nation employees were granted administrative leave to attend.  Families were provided a delicious supper and also enjoyed some of the amenities that the campground offers such as a swimming pool, inflatables, jumping pillow, and the ever popular peddle bikes.  After supper, families were treated to a s’mores bar.
On Thursday, June 14, children ages 8-17 and adults listened to the keynote address, as provided by Tamra Oman and Paula Buege of Hope Road.  Ms. Oman and Ms. Buege both spoke of their pasts.  This  includes a history of mental health diagnoses, substance abuse, child abuse, incarceration, sex trafficking, childhood mental health, and the struggle of working with schools to find a solution to meet the educational needs of a child with mental health diagnoses, suicide attempts.   They both included finding the positive paths that they are currently on. 
Ms. Oman stated that her own recovery didn’t start until she found her spirituality during the darkest points in her life.  Her struggles resulted in her being a person who understands many of the issues affecting communities while offering support as a certified peer recovery specialist. 
Ms. Buege spoke of her own recovery with substance abuse and mental health issues while trying to raise her children.  Her children faced their own challenges, like aggressive behaviors and a suicide attempt at the age of four.  Both Ms. Buege and Ms. Oman spoke of hope, and while a person’s past is part of their life story, it doesn’t have to become their whole story.
Mr. Gilbert Brown and Mr. Craig Newsome encouraged the youth to believe in themselves and be good teammates regardless of if they play sports or not.  Mr. Brown encouraged being a positive and supportive friend, encourage others to do well in school, be a part of the community, and be a positive role model or mentor to younger family members or friends.
Mr. Ted Hall of the Ho-Chunk Nation Department of Health Pharmacy spoke on the dangers of drugs. Chief Earl Lemieux of the Ho-Chunk Nation Police Department and Chief Duane Waldera of the Jackson County Police Department provided the ‘In Plain Sight’ event for parents and adults.  Youth were not permitted to attend this event, as training displayed what to look for if parents/caregivers suspect that someone may be using drugs. 
Mr. Waylon Pahona provided the afternoon session for both adults and youth.  He made sure to get everyone out of their chairs and on their feet!  His positive message reverberated throughout the afternoon, inspiring people to get active.  He urged they focus on their health, which could be through leading sober lifestyles and making sure to get adequate exercise as a family.
On Thursday, participants were able to learn about different programs within the Ho-Chunk Nation and receive a free Child Safe ID kit for their children through a partnership between the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department and the Ho-Chunk Nation Police Department.  The Social Dance was held Thursday evening and was the highlight of the event for many people.  Both staff and families commented on how cool it was to see the presenters participating in dancing, visiting, and learning about Ho-Chunk ways.  Music and company were both excellent, with the sound of laughter filling the night.
On Friday, participants learned how to play kaasu, how to make drum sticks, sew their own bags, and experience archery.  After a bag lunch was provided, participants were encouraged to go home and practice what that they learned during the retreat. 
We hope to see you next year at the Retreat.