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Callaway teen awarded $10,000

Oympic gold medalist Billy Mills announced the first class of American Indian youth to receive $10,000 Dreamstarter grants for projects that help them bring their dreams to life. One of those awarded was Nathaniel Christianson of Callaway.

Each of the 10 Dreamstarter recipients, who are all American Indian youth under age 30, will work together with a community nonprofit on a project to increase wellness supported by Running Strong for American Indian Youth.

Christianson, 16, of Callaway is one of this year’s 10 recipients.

“I’m so inspired by our first class of Dreamstarters,” said Mills. “The Dreamstarter program is one more step towards overcoming the poverty of dreams among so many Native young people. The Dreamstarters come from communities and tribes all over the country.

“They are bound together by the idea that, despite the challenges, their dreams can guide them to build a strong future for themselves and for their communities. I look forward to working with each Dreamstarter over the next year, to helping them grow into leaders, and to watching their dreams come to life.”

Christianson’s dream is to create a media room for youth in his community, and help them learn how to use it. A local radio station will assist with the project, and teach the youth how to use videography and sound equipment, as well as other work skills.

The project will give local youth a positive place to go, and will also give a voice to Christianson and his peers, as they raising awareness about the issues they see in their community.

Running Strong will give away 50 $10,000 Dreamstarter grants over the next five years to support Native youth’s dreams for their communities. At the end of the grant period, Running Strong will choose five projects to be eligible for an additional $50,000 grant.

Each year, grants are awarded to projects around a unifying theme. The 2015-2016 theme is wellness.

On Oct. 14, 1964, Billy Mills, an Oglala Lakota (Sioux) runner, won the 10,000 meter race at the Tokyo Olympics in an upset, come-from-behind victory that ever since has been an inspiration to Native youth and all Americans.

He is still the only person from the Western hemisphere ever to win that event.

He co-founded Running Strong for American Indian Youth in 1986 to help others live their dreams. Mills announced the Dreamstarter program on the 50th anniversary of his gold medal win, which has been repeatedly called the greatest race in Olympic running history.

Running Strong for American Indian Youth supports Native-led programs to help American Indian youth address their basic survival needs. This includes the need to believe in the power of their dreams and to build a strong future for themselves and their communities.

For more information about this year’s Dreamstarters, or to find out how to help jumpstart dreams for Native youth, visit indianyouth.org/2015Dreamstarters.

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