WCC Alumnus Reports on Native American Health for Pulitzer Fellowship

The Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting has continued to offer opportunities for aspiring journalists to hone their craft and report from the field.

The Center is an American news organization that was established to support in-depth reporting into global affairs. Last year, WCC graduate Viridiana Vidales Coyt was awarded a Pulitzer Fellowship to report on Native American community efforts in combating epidemic rates of childhood obesity and Type 2 diabetes in New Mexico.

The Pulitzer Center awards grants for journalists that cover the international travel costs associated with reporting projects on topics and regions of global importance.

Coyt was determined to stick to a positive story, as most Pulitzer Fellows wrote about crises such as drug wars and refugees. She instead wanted to shed light on the work that people in Native American communities are putting in to create change.

In the story, Coyt shared that the Native American communities currently have the highest rates of childhood obesity and Type 2 diabetes. The article presented troubling facts such as 40 percent of Native kids ages five to eight are overweight or obese, and a third are at risk of cardiovascular diseases and low cholesterol.

Coyt found that The University of New Mexico’s Center for Native Health’s Pediatric Obesity Prevention Research issued two controlled trials named “The Wellness Journey” which provides nutrition and physical activity information in 13 lessons, while the “Safety Journey” focuses on a study involving the reduction of sweets consumption, as well as the increase in physical activity and the intake of fruits and vegetables in Native children ages two to five-years-old.

The National trials showed positive results by showing decreased body mass index in the children as well as positive behavior.

The experience of being a journalist who will have her work presented was an eye opening one for Coyt. She also noted that her involvement in winning the fellowship transformed her outlook on how a community comes together in the face of adversity.

“It taught me that even though things can go from bad to worse we as individuals can come together and create change or ignite change,” said Coyt.

Coyt’s fellowship article can be found on pulitzercenter.org. Students who are interested in applying to become a Pulitzer fellow next year can apply at the same location.

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