Academy students step up to the challenge

The Southern Ute Indian Montessori Academy Upper Elementary students practice CPR on dummies, during their Physical Education hour Monday, April 11.
Mark Archuleta practices chest compressions on a dummy.
Sacha Smith | The Southern Ute Drum
Sacha Smith | The Southern Ute Drum


The recent renovations to the SunUte Community Center gymnasium left the Southern Ute Indian Montessori Academy (SUIMA) students without a gym for Physical Education activities. Instead of looking at the closure negatively, SunUte and SUIMA staff took it as a challenge to engage students in alternative ways. The two decided to train students on cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and first aid.

“We wanted the kids to be doing something effective and meaningful,” Fitness Director Robin Duffy-Wirth said. “CPR is such a good tool for all people to have”

During the CPR classes students have been learning the anatomy of the body, how to recognize signs of distress and how equipment, such as an automated external defibrillator (AED), work.

“They are also learning that they have a responsibility to people around them,” she said. “Even if in the event something happens and the kids are afraid to respond they know to call 9-1-1,

and that’s what’s really important.”

Some students will become certified at the end of the training, and some won’t, just due to the fact that some kids don’t quite have the strength to do chest compressions, Duffy-Wirth said.

The children are learning quick and making connections to real life scenarios. Duffy-Wirth said her time spent with the children has been eye opening.

“[The training] is relevant to them because they have had relatives or friends that have been injured and need help. And now they just have the confidence to respond, and possibly save a life”

Duffy-Wirth feels passionately that everyone in the community should become certified so the community in turn becomes a healthier place – especially now that children in the community are stepping up to the responsibility.

SunUte Community Center holds CPR trainings regularly. Those classes are open to all tribal members for free. Tribal members can call SunUte, 970-563-0214, and ask to sign up for the next available class. Tribal employees are also offered the classes at an expense that can be paid by their Tribal Department.






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