Community members can express themselves creatively with GRIC Voices

Kyle Knox
Gila River Indian News


With the shift in lifestyle, work, and school due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Tribal Education Department and Gila River Health Care are working together to build a virtual space for Community members to creatively express their feelings.


GRIC Voices is a project to showcase creative expression of life in the Community during the pandemic and “share inspiration.” Through GRIC Voices, Community members can submit poetry, essays, photos, paintings, and videos to express themselves in the era of COVID-19.


During this time with social distancing, employment and school disruptions, and minimal in-person interaction, it is easy to feel secluded with anxiety and stress. That notion is a primary purpose for the project.


In contrast, the committee hopes to demonstrate the unique effects of life during COVID-19 while providing a healthy outlet. Anthony Gray, the Cultural Coordinator at TED, said, “We want to give the people a voice to express themselves because the feeling of being cooped up can lead to negative thoughts.


And it’s perfectly fine to feel that way, but to get it out in a healthy way is a primary goal for this.” Gray also hopes that while gathering submissions, they can also share information for a crisis, anxiety, and stress phone lines, as seen on the flyer.


Co-chair for the GRIC Voices, Anna Pacheco, Prevention Education Specialist-Lead GRHC Behavioral Health Services, said, “What’s driving this project is to allow everyone to have a voice, speak to one another, strengthen one another, and stay Gila River Strong.”


In May, Tribal Education Department and GRHC’s Behavioral Health staff wanted to create a space for the Community to speak of their experiences during this time while virtually connecting others with similar experiences.


Eventually, a planning committee was formed to collectively host a virtual showcase of talent from Community members featuring art, poetry, and videos. Though there will be incentives given to the first 50 entries, the program is non-competitive.


Instead, GRIC Voiceswill showcase and encourage viewers to “not feel alone” during the pandemic. Pacheco said, “We do have similarity in feelings of frustration, and maybe it feels like ‘it’s just me going through this,’ but by voicing our feelings, we can be positive encouragement for the Community.”


GRIC Voices is similar to the annual Yes2Life and Mul-Chu-Tha essay and art contest, except for the competition portion and allowing for entries from all ages. Part of the effort is to draw from all generations that comprise the Community, especially elders.


The committee felt it was integral for elders to participate because they also have their perspectives and wisdom to share. The committee also encourages everyone to be creative and promote anything unique and expressive.


There is no right or wrong idea to submit but be tasteful, appropriate, and original. Gray mentioned that he had viewed skits online through the Facebook website. Though funny most times, he realized they could provide a positive message, so that’s also an option for everyone to consider.


The submission deadline is Aug. 28, and all submissions will need to be free from derogatory language or inappropriate content such as references to drugs and alcohol.


So if you or someone you know would like to participate, your submission will need to be emailed to Anthony Gray at


Those who would like to submit a video, audio recording, and anything media-related will need to email your submission to Reuben Ringlero at Edit Box at


Beginning in September, submissions will be showcased online through all of the official GRIC social media platforms For further information, please contact Anthony Gray via email or by phone at (520) 562-3662.