A public service announcement (PSA) recorded by guitarist Carlos Santana is a compassionate and strategic call to action for the young people during a difficult year when too many have taken their own lives.
In a partnership with the Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health, Mr. Santana’s Milagro Foundation also committed support to help inspire and strengthen struggling youth with a vision of the future. The foundation’s support has kicked off with the PSA recorded by the Grammy award-winning musician.
“I am asking you,” says Mr. Santana in the recording, “to help your classmates, friends and relatives who are struggling. If you know someone who is depressed, feels alone, pushing loved ones away—or who admits that they want to hurt themselves - please tell someone who can help.” He continues, “You might be worried that this person will be mad at you. Maybe they will be for a short time. But your friend or relative will be alive. It’s ok to get help for others and ask for help for yourself.”
Carlos Santana’s PSA message to the young people on Pine Ridge has played on the local radio and TV stations and been “liked” and shared thousands of times on the radio station’s and Lakota County Times Facebook pages.
The Milagro Foundation’s grant to the Center for American Indian Health will go toward training teachers, school administrators, parents and community members on Pine Ridge in a proven methodology to identify youth at risk of suicide and guide them toward support, as well as build community-based prevention networks. The two-day interactive training includes role-plays and practice to make participants comfortable and equipped to play a preventive role in their community.
Support will also go toward engaging Lakota elders modeled on an effective program the Center has developed in partnership with the White Mountain Apache tribe in Arizona. The Apache have developed an innovative curriculum that connects children through elders to their heritage, traditions and culture, which has been shown to be a protective factor for youth.
Allison Barlow, Associate Director of Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health, said, “Indian country has been so courageous in addressing suicide prevention. Having the extra help and energy of caring outsiders, like Carlos Santana, will help tribal communities rebuild a web of hope and well-being. The world will learn a great deal from these efforts.”
The Pine Ridge Indian Reservation has some of the highest poverty and unemployment rates in the country, and these two constraints have combined to dampen hope. “In order to reverse the feelings of despair, we are working to build capacity across the communities our school serves in order to improve the outreach services available to our young people,” said Alice Phelps, Principal of Wounded Knee District School.
“We are grateful to Carlos Santana and the Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health for reaching out to our communities during this critical time of need to help us reach our young people in proven and innovative methodologies,” said Phelps. “All of this begins with the powerful message of hope by Carlos Santana himself in his PSA.”
About the Milagro Foundation
Milagro (“Miracle”) is a charitable foundation that supports underrepresented and vulnerable children and youth in the areas of arts, education and health. The Milagro Foundation was started in 1998 by Carlos Santana and his family to benefit children around the world. The Milagro Foundation has a passionate belief that children everywhere deserve to live a life with full access to proper healthcare and education as well as opportunities to develop into creative human beings.
About the Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health
Founded in 1991, the mission of Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health is to work in partnership with tribal communities to raise their health status and health leadership capacity to the highest possible level. The Center empowers tribes to design public health strategies to achieve optimal health and well-being. Based at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, the Center’s programs currently reach more than 55 tribal nations across 15 states. To learn more, visit http://caih.jhu.edu.