Aboriginal youth from across the province are the focus of a new research project aimed at improving their health.

The $750,000 three-year project goes far beyond physical illness to include things like building confidence and self-esteem.

The target is aboriginal youth from 12 to 20, particularly in rural and remote areas.

The approach is unique and fun using things like theatre, hip hop and native elders to help teach life skills.

The project is a partnership with band councils, Northern sport culture and recreation as well as  the indigenous peoples health research centre.

Gail Boehme is the executive director of the All Nations Healing hospital in Fort Qu’Appelle  and first nations health services.

She says the project is already making a difference.

“Ultimately at the end of the day it is improving the health outcome of the kids.  It’s about building  self- confidence, self- expression and self- esteem.  It’s incredible as we watch these kids evolve,  it has been amazing.”

The team leader for the project is Jo-Anne Epeskinew.

She says the cost  is an investment that will pay dividends.

“I think that everyone in the province knows that to have a healthy aboriginal youth is important for all of us, plus we are doing cool things with the arts and the kids are telling us it has really made a difference in their lives and they love it.”

Beyond emotional health, the physical health of aboriginals tends to score lower than the general population.

Lung disease, diabetes, and obesity tends to be higher in the first nations community.

The project hopes to address that by providing youth with knowledge that will allow them to make the right life choices.