“Flight Club”

Flight Club is a non-competitive, extracurricular program designed to help elementary and middle school-aged Native youth appreciate regular exercise and take pride in Native running heritage. Since 2015, Wings has employed full-time staff, as well as local volunteers to lead Flight Club “chapters” in Oklahoma, New Mexico and Arizona. Apart from providing a “curriculum” that includes daily exercises/drills and Native running history teaching materials, Wings will provide loyal Flight Club members with incentives such as stickers, water bottles, t-shirts and even running shoes in appreciation for their good attendance. If you would like to learn more about how to provide this program to a before or after school group whose attendees are mostly Native, please reach out to the Wings program Director, Mariah Gachupin, at mariah@wingsofamerica.org.

In order to remain in “good standing”, each Flight Club must:

  1. Meet at least twice a week for 8 weeks or more during each “season” or semester.
  2. Keep attendance. Wings can help create incentives and incentive standards to reward loyal participants.
  3. Get participants to engage in at least 20 minutes of continuous movement (running, walking and/or game play) at each meeting.
  4. Regularly encourage participants to engage in Wings’ “Exercise Essentials” (dynamic warm-ups, static stretching, group games)
  5. Expose participants to the stories of Native running heroes and heroines. Wings has many resources to help educate Flight Club leaders about who these figures are, as well as suggestions about how to teach young people about their legacy.

Volunteer Leader Training:

Walatowa Flight Club members show off their “special edition” Earth Day shirts gifted to them as part of the spring ’24 incentive structure.

In 2024, Wings hopes to revive in-person Flight Club leader retreats at its headquarters in Albuquerque! Unfortunately, the pandemic shut down many of Flight Club chapters across Indian Country and although some Flight Clubbers continued to meet virtually, only Flight Club at the Native American Community Academy in Albuquerque, NM “survived”. In April of 2024, a second in-person Flight Club chapter was revived at the Walatowa Youth Center for Jemez youth participating in their after school programs. As the demand and ability to host Flight Club grows, Wins will begin hosting two trainings a year to bring Flight Club leaders together to review/improve program curriculum and share best practices. The most-recent Flight Club manual detailing “exercise essentials” recommended as part of the program is linked below. If you or someone you know is interested in serving as a volunteer Flight Club Leader, please reach out to Mariah at mariah@wingsofamerfica.org to inquire about attending the next Flight Club Leaders’ retreat.