New Videos Zoom in on Junior NYO Athletes

A series of instructional videos aimed at a younger audience makes NYO Games more accessible and inclusive

Instructional videos made for and featuring junior NYO athletes help younger students prepare for traditional Native games.

In 2019, CITC and NYO Games Alaska released a series of instructional videos that walk athletes, coaches, and fans through each NYO Games event, step-by-step.

The videos, created with funding from a Nike N7 grant awarded to CITC in 2017, came at a serendipitous time: Just one short year after they were shared, a global pandemic struck and forced most large social events to go virtual. Throughout “virtual NYO” in 2020, athletes and coaches could consult the instructional videos for guidance on how to perform NYO events like the One-Hand Reach, the Kneel Jump, the Eskimo Pull, and more.

This year, just in time for Junior NYO Games, CITC has released a series of new how-to videos focused on NYO’s youngest athletes.

Featuring children from grades one through six who compete at Junior NYO Games, the videos offer clear, step-by-step directions for how to perform NYO events—with an emphasis on showing what the events look like when performed by smaller athletes.

Teenage NYO athletes have more experience with doing events like the Alaskan High Kick or the Seal Hop, so their execution of the events look quite different from when a third- or fourth-grader attempts the same activity. The new instructional videos give younger athletes a better idea of how to position themselves, how to perform an event, and what it will look like when they successfully kick, hop, or jump.

CITC’s instructional NYO Games videos have been shared throughout the country and even internationally, boosting awareness of Alaska Native games.

Each video also provides tips on avoiding disqualification, examples of stretches that help kids limber up and prepare for their event, and a brief explanation of the historical context behind each event.

By creating these videos, which were produced by Channel Films, CITC and NYO Games Alaska hope to make traditional games more accessible to junior athletes all over the state. Just as the videos aimed at older athletes help support schools and communities both on and off the state’s road system to form their own teams and hold meaningful practices, the videos for junior athletes empower kids to get involved in NYO Games at an earlier age.

“After sharing the original videos made for senior athletes, we’ve learned that those videos have been used in events around the country and even in other countries, celebrating indigenous games,” said Kelly Hurd, CITC senior director of development. “This effort to spread knowledge of and access to traditional Alaska Native games is making waves well beyond just Alaska.”

Funding for the Junior NYO Games videos was providing by Nike’s N7 Fund, along with a $10,000 donation from Cook Inlet Region, Inc.

Nike’s N7 Fund is dedicated to creating positive experiences in sports and physical activity for Native American and Aboriginal communities throughout North America. Funding is awarded to organizations that support physical activity programming for youth.

Instructional videos can be viewed online here and the updated NYO Handbook is available here.