#MIKidsCan Champion of the Month: Arianna Maldonado

Arianna Maldonado’s courage and athletic ability are not to be underestimated based on her size, or age.

This seven-year-old from the reservation of the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians in Petoskey, Mich. is always up for a new challenge when it comes to staying active.

Over the summer she competed in her tribe’s annual Pow Wow, performing in front of a crowd of nearly 100 people.

The competition was her first as a jingle dress dancer, which is an activity that holds meaning close to Arianna’s heart.

Each metal comb that lines her jingle dress symbolizes a healing prayer she and her mom said as they attached them on. Their tribe’s teaching is that every time the combs hit each other during a dance, the prayers are sent to their creator.

“I prayed for everyone with a broken heart to heal,” said Arianna.

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This year, Arianna switched from butterfly dancing to jingle dress dancing. Soon she will take sewing classes to learn how to make her very own regalia.

Although dancing is something Arianna has been doing since she was three, she certainly doesn’t limit herself to one sport.

This summer, Arianna found a mermaid tail online she wanted to use at the beach. Unfortunately, it was designed for more advanced swimmers and listed a set of athletic requirements that had to be met before use. This included being able to float on your stomach and back, tread water, dolphin kick and swim the length of a pool.

Ready for the challenge, Arianna asked her mom to sign her up for swim lessons. After weeks of hard work, she not only met the athletic requirements—but mastered each of the skills and earned her mermaid tail. She spent the duration of the summer encouraging the rest of her family to visit the beach on a weekly basis.

This dedicated athlete manages to excel on her soccer team as well. In the many games she’s played, Arianna scores goals more often than not.

“Being the smallest kid never stops her,” said Arianna’s mom. “She doesn’t get intimidated by people who are bigger than her, so she’s never afraid to go for the goal in a soccer game.”

Arianna was selected to be Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan’s September #MIKidsCan Champion of the Month for the enthusiasm that drives her to fearlessly try new sports and stay active in unique ways at a young age. She encourages kids her age to try activities like jingle dress dancing because “it’s fun and good for your body.”

Photo Credit: Allie Maldonado

If you enjoyed this article, check out:

Do you know a child who deserves to be recognized for their commitment to living a healthy, active lifestyle? Nominate them at ahealthiermichigan.org/mikidscan.

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