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More than 800 students in grades 1–6 from across Alaska will gather this weekend in the spirit of sportsmanship to compete in traditional Alaska Native contests during the 2017 Junior NYO Games (JNYO) Feb. 24–26 at the Wells Fargo Sports Complex on the UAA campus in Anchorage.
NYO is a year-round program having a quantifiably positive impact on more than 2,000 youth each year. As the training ground for the senior Games, junior NYO allows young athletes to compete in traditional skills-building contests such as the Eskimo Stick Pull, Seal Hop, One- and Two-foot High Kicks, and the Arm Pull.
The Games promote healthy lifestyles, positive self-esteem and leadership skills, while offering insight into Alaska’s rich cultural diversity. The NYO Games are open to all students from across the state and foster a cross-cultural understanding and appreciation of Alaska Native cultures. Student athletes train for up to a year in advance in preparation for the annual event.
“NYO carries on the traditional practice of sharing knowledge with one another,” explains Gloria O’Neill, President and CEO of Cook Inlet Tribal Council (CITC). “Athletes support one another and help each other succeed during the Games, teaching our young people sportsmanship and the value of hard work, cooperation and achieving their personal best.”
In 1971, 12 schools participated in the first NYO through a variety of events traditionally used by Native people as a way to test strength and endurance and develop subsistence and survival skills. For example, the Seal Hop is a game of endurance and stamina that reflects sneaking up on seals on sea ice.
CITC has hosted NYO since 1986, and a number of organizations, sponsors and volunteers throughout the state contribute to the Games’ success. Many former NYO participants serve as officials, coaches and/or have taken leadership roles in our community. For more information on how to be involved, please visit citci.org/nyo-games.
What: 2017 Junior NYO Games (JNYO)
Who: More than 800 student athletes in grades 1–6 statewide
Where: UAA’s Wells Fargo Sports Complex, Anchorage
When: Friday, Feb. 24, 2–8 p.m.,* Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 25– 26, 10 a.m.–5 p.m.*
Social Media: Facebook; Twitter: @CITCAlaska; #NYOGames; Instagram: CITCAlaska
*Times are subject to change; timing of each event is estimated and dictated by length of individual contests