March 6, 2017
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — The Cherokee Nation now has the first nationally recognized Youth M.O.V.E. chapter in the state of Oklahoma.
The tribe’s Native Youth Motivating Others Through Voices of Experience (M.O.V.E.) Heroes group is a partnership between the Cherokee Nation HERO Project and Sequoyah High School. Under the leadership of the HERO Project, Sequoyah students meet weekly to discuss and advocate solutions on issues facing youth.
In addition to having the first chapter in the state, the Cherokee Nation is also the fourth tribe to have an accredited chapter in the nation.
“Our overall goal is that our Native youth will have a voice and choice in the programs, systems and policies that affect them. We want youth to have a seat at the table and for that inclusion to be standard in the future,” said Ashley Lincoln, evidence-based intervention specialist for the HERO Project.
Cherokee Nation citizen and Sequoyah freshman Liliana Rojas said the group is different from other groups at Sequoyah High School because anyone can join and have their voice heard.
“Our group has an inviting feeling, and in my opinion we have a lot of potential to do something great,” said Rojas.
In 2016, Lincoln and her group of 10 youth received national recognition for their efforts by becoming the state’s first nationally recognized chapter. The good news came after a detailed application, completed entirely by students of the group, passed a board review.
“We are working really hard to get our group strong so that we can get others involved and encouraged to start their own chapters. I am really here to be their cheerleader, to encourage them and to teach them the advocacy skills they need to communicate their concerns effectively and respectfully,” Lincoln said.
The tribe’s Native Youth M.O.V.E. Heroes group hopes to encourage the development of new chapters in other schools.
Many members of Native Youth M.O.V.E. Heroes are actively involved in other groups advocating on issues of voice and choice for Native youth, including the Tribal Youth Council and the Cherokee Cabinet for Children and Families.