Warriors Code Fuses Culture, Care at Outpatient Center in Downtown Phoenix
Gila River Indian News
Seeing a need for an outpatient treatment center specifically for Indigenous peoples, Dr. Anthony Newkirk, District 3, founded Warriors Code, integrating culture with holistic care. Dr. Newkirk, a U.S. Air Force Veteran, has experience with addiction and has a “Prison to PhD” story that he hopes inspires others in recovery. An open house on Jan. 7 welcomed the public to learn about the new center at 1246 E Jefferson St. in downtown Phoenix.
Warriors Code takes a “collective care” approach with its clientele by infusing culture into every aspect of wellness. It offers behavioral health, including substance abuse prevention and harm reduction; holistic wellness, such as exercise, yoga and weight management; professional development, including help with resumes and job placement; and culture, such as talking circles, sweat lodges and women’s retreats.
Warriors Code’s key staff reflects a range of talent from the Gila River Indian Community. Jiivik Siiki, District 2 Hashan Kehk, helms a group therapy arm threaded with indigenous knowledge, while Waylon Pahona, District 7, and Johanna Corpeno (Mayn), leads the wellness programming that focuses on physical and overall health.
“When you look at typical behavioral health, (it’s) focused on the cognitive therapies, and they don’t include culture, wellness or minor accomplishments into that,” said Newkirk. “Here we have Waylon and Jiivik, … who bring their brand of healing to the team and foundation to help with the healing part.”
Everything Warriors Code offers is what Newkirk found to work best in his personal journey to recovery, and he wants to extend that to the clientele.
“What I really like about this place is we’re using culture.” said Siiki. “Some other places do, some don’t; but here it’s infused in everything we do from the ground up. Some of the pieces we deal with are historical trauma (and) how that affects us as people, to personal trauma – the things we do to ourselves that causes imbalance. Clients offer ideas on how to deal with what they’re struggling with, and we work to get them there.”
Through yoga, fitness, nutrition instruction and breathing techniques, Pahona and his partner Corpeno, help shape a healthy lifestyle through movement and diet.
“We create a mindset to be healthy and look at their wellness and resiliency as natives,” said Pahona. “Our movement is based around spirituality and connection and not just push-ups, sit-ups and jumping jacks.”
The physical wellness component offers clients sustainable methods for healing outside the walls of Warriors Code. Corpeno said, “Our belief and understanding are that movement is medicine. Trauma lives in our body, and unless we are taught a positive way to release that, it can manifest into anger or addiction.”
The unique Warriors Code model, which began in June 2020, has resulted in many success stories from members. Some have acquired a job, gotten a car, and reunited with family.
“I have high hopes that we can expand this closer to reservations and native communities,” said Newkirk. “I hear from people that have been in this work for years and decades that share that there is nothing like this in behavioral health.”
The work of the Warriors Code is key to sustaining a healthy community for families and individuals. Though this center is a dream fulfilled for Newkirk, he wants to see everyone get the help they deserve.
“I really want people to step outside themselves and ask for the help they need,” he said. “It is long overdue, and we need to start asking men and women, adults and children to ask for help.”
More information can be found online at warriorscode.org.