Tobacco-Free/Substance-Free Event for Native Youth

Liz Brown Indian Center: Youth Suicide Prevention Program

Liz Brown specializes in youth suicide prevention within the Indian Center Inc.  As an advocate, she helps the youth she serves find healthier alternatives when dealing with overwhelming amounts of stress. The challenges in her work have made her realize that there is a great need in the Native American community to have open discussions about health risk behaviors.  She explains that seeking help is a serious stigma in her community. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), social determinants of health are conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work and age. “These circumstances,” the WHO explains, “are shaped by the distribution of money, power and resources at a global, national and local level.”

Dapice et al, explains that the effects of social determinants of health for Native Americans have greatly resulted from European conquest.  The conquest created great displacement and death among Native people; pre-Columbian culture and diet clashed with European floured grain and alcohol, creating allergic and predisposed physiological responses; and past and present US policy has restricted Native Americans into great poverty and oppression. Dapice el al adds that accidents, homicide, and suicide are killing Native children and youth in larger numbers than any other racial group. Later in life, heart disease, chronic liver disease/cirrhosis, and diabetes kill Native adults in larger numbers than any other groups. Physiologically and socially, the causes of death for Native Americans are mostly related to alcoholism, smoking, and other addictions such as toxic foods.

For these many reasons, Native Americans are greatly disadvantaged and exposed to added stressors.  These disadvantages have created a gap in health equality for Native American people where many health issues have remained unresolved, thus allowing the disparity gap to widen. When Liz explains the stigma she experiences from her clients, she is describing post-traumatic stress disorder that is suffered through a whole community. After so many centuries of oppression and therein depression, Native people may continue to “re-experience trauma” and numb themselves to their disparities.  The stigma and stress grows, and more premature deaths occur.

Liz wants to make a difference in her community, just like other partners who she’s collaborated with. Recently, she fantasized having a prevention kick off for youth. A rally Publication2that will serve as a festival of health information accessible to youth to prepare for a safe summer. Since  health behaviors are learned and our ancestors and relatives are our best teachers, she wanted to include their families as well. Together with Nebraska Urban Indian Health Coalition and Metro Omaha Tobacco Action Coalition, Liz is planning an event full of  protective ways to respond when temptations are creeping by.

The event will be held outdoors at Hanscom Park in Omaha on Thursday June 12th from 4.30pm-8.30pm. The day is fast approaching!

The event will be [of course] tobacco free/substance free. There will be cultural celebration, elders will share their music, and families will share their food during a community potluck. Kids will have the chance to visit with different vendors to learn more about keeping safe  and have a chance to win prizes like zoo passes and theater passes to keep busy and active this summer. If you know a native youth, be a positive role model in their life and bring him/her to this youth rally called “The Good Life in My Moccasins.”

For more details and to join our Facebook page, please visit:

To learn more about smoking and tobacco please view a local short documentary made here in Nebraska:

Dapice, A.N., Inkanish, C., Martin, B., Brauchi, P. (2002). Killing us slowly: When we can’t fight and we can’t run. Related Issues: Native American Health Issues and IHS. World Heath Organization. (2012). Social determinants of health.

LTC at NAP’s Condom Fashion Show

LTC in redThis Thursday, June 27th, 2013 at the Magnolia Hotel in downtown Omaha, Latinas, Tabaco, y Cáncer will be participating in the Project Condom Fashion Show

The Project Condom Fashion Show is an entertaining and educational event featuring fashion designs made with condoms to promote safer sex and HIV awareness. The Project Condom Fashion Show is a benefit that aims to raise funds towards Nebraska AIDS Project’s client services and education programs.

Latinas, Tabaco, y Cáncer (LTC) is a community-based holistic health promotion program fighting tobacco, preventing cancer, and supporting mental well-being through education, social support, and advocacy. The group’s goals are to: (1) Increase personal and family healthy decision-making; (2) Increase community capacity for positive social change; and (3) Increase overall well-being by promoting healthy lifestyles as individual women, wives, mothers, and engaged community members. LTC is led by the UNMC Center for Reducing Health Disparities’ Triple A team: Athena Ramos, Antonia Correa, and Ariss Rogel Mendoza, and is supported by the Metro Omaha Tobacco Action Coalition (MOTAC).

LTC’s decision to participate in the Condom Fashion Show stems from the women’s dedication to educate about tobacco awareness; it recognizes that the LGBT community has extreme rates of tobacco use and wants to do what it can to build awareness as a means to prevent use. In the LGBT community smoking rates are almost 70% higher than the general population. And for this reason LTC members have come together with the help of volunteers in the community, which include: Designer- Eddiy Hilliard, a community nonprofit volunteer and professional hairstylist at 1Drakeplace; Model- Tygra Slarri, this year’s Smokeless Diva and full advocate for tobacco free lifestyles and environments; Volunteer-Dustin Moorehead, event designer and co-owner of Creating Atmosphere; and Volunteer- Joao de Brito a community activist and advocate for social equality and diversity.

We are excited to introduce our design in the Project Condom Fashion Show which is set out to entertain and educate. In the same fashion, LTC and MOTAC want to educate about the dangers that tobacco causes to not just our health, but also our environment. We are particularly building awareness on the damage that our Omaha Parks endure with harmful cigarette litter, the most littered item on the planet, and the role modeling that this adult habit causes to influence youth attitudes towards socially accepting tobacco use.

Smokeless Diva will appear on the runway as a tree, representing our park’s mother nature. As she comes down she will look lively and vibrant, but at closer inspection you will see the dark side that our mother nature experiences by the litter and damage that tobacco causes her.

To have a real visual, we hope you can make it out on Thursday night at the Magnolia Hotel, located downtown at 1615 Howard Street, Omaha, Nebraska 68102.

Following are entry details:

$15 – General Admission
$35 – Reserved Seating
$100 – VIP Pass – includes cocktails and hors d’oeurves during the event!

Doors open at 6:30p
Show starts at 7:30p

To view examples of what this event is like, please check out VIDEOS and PICTURES from past shows!!

We hope you can come support us!

Smokeless Diva 2013

tygra-lungsIf you missed the Smokeless Diva 2013 Drag Pageant here is your chance to learn more and prepare for the next time to see our Diva in action. The University of Nebraska Medical Center’s Center for Reducing Health Disparities (UNMC CRHD) presented its very first drag pageant, “Smokeless Diva,” at Flixx Lounge on April 13, 2013.  The show was designed to raise awareness about the dangers of tobacco and secondhand smoke within the LGBT community, where research shows that use rates are almost double that of the general population across the United States.

Over 400,000 people in the United States die every year from tobacco-related diseases, and tobacco use and secondhand smoke do not discriminate against their victims.  The American Cancer Society estimates that over 30,000 LGBT people die each year from tobacco-related diseases. Locally in Nebraska, through the Midlands Sexual Health Research Collaborative’ s Midlands LGBT Needs Assessment Community Report in 2011, 46.4% of LGBT respondents had smoked 100 cigarettes in their life.

CRHD along with Metro Omaha Tobacco Action Coalition (MOTAC) and Latinas, Tabaco, y Cáncer (LTC) help find and create solutions to creating an Omaha that is healthier and tobacco-free across all population groups.  We are able to provide technical assistance for creating tobacco-free environments such as smoke-free apartments and tobacco-free business policies, making it healthier for all of us to be in a space where smoking is not the norm but a known and avoidable cause of preventable death.

Through the “Smokeless Diva” pageant, we were able to reach out and promote healthier choices by demonstrating  that being smoke-free or smoke-less is a lot more glamorous and fun than being tied down to a cig.

What better way to inform people about the dangers of tobacco use than an animated and creative pageant?  In order to afford an appealing prize for the winner, the LTC LGBT subgroup held a tamale sale where they sold close to 35 dozen tamales.  And so, our Diva took home a sash and crown, roses, and a cash price of $150.  Although these are humble beginnings for a pageant, it brought forth a most stunning contestant and now winner, Tygra Slaríí.

Everyone involved in the planning of the pageant could not imagine what type of Diva this pageant would bring and how comfortable she would be in talking about tobacco when smoking is so ingrained into the LGBT community, but we were pleasantly surprised when Tygra took to the stage. There were four categories within the pageant, two of which are not necessarily often done, an interview and a creative costume wear.  During the creative costume category of the pageant, contestants were asked to design an outfit that reflected the insides of a smoker.  Tygra appeared in a beautifully fitted wedding dress, and on her hands she held a bouquet.  Some people were a bit confused and frankly did not understand her outfit, but then she blew into her bouquet and a bunch of material floated in the air which appeared like smoke. Tygra made an elegant turn and there it was…the back of the dress was black and tarred with cigarette boxes attached to it. The dress was backless, where black lungs were drawn on and patched with white tape to resemble sick lungs. What creativity! We thought that the highlight of the night, that is until she spoke to the audience during the interview. When asked why she was competing, Tygra revealed that she desired the title of ‘Smokeless Diva’ because she wanted to make a difference for people in her community; she did not want others to suffer the fate of her father who had died of lung cancer a few years prior.  With the support of her family, Tygra had entered the drag queen world and has a great appreciation of them; she wants to do her part to bring awareness to the community on the silent killer that took one of her champions.

The night was filled with laughter, witty banter from the Emcees, and wonderful performers and rock star drag queens.  Most of all it was full of useful information regarding tobacco.   Miss Smokeless Diva accepted her title with such elegance and glamour. Tygra entered her reign as Smokeless Diva very seriously where during her victory show, Tygra organized a substance abuse show with drag performers to promote prevention and awareness. The show was a remarkable display of talent and creativity as some performers depicted drug overdosing, heroin, cocaine and others.  Tygra’s reign continues, so if you would like to support her CRHD/MOTAC/ and LTC as well as
other projects/events like these, please visit