Students Shine at Festival
By Jacqueline Garcia, EGP Staff Writer
An initiative to promote health and wellness in eastside area neighborhoods and schools, celebrated its 5th anniversary Saturday with a festival at Wellness Center in the Historic General Hospital.
The $1 billion, 10-year Building Healthy Communities-Boyle Heights initiative is a community collaboration of over 36 community-based non-profit organizations, residents, and public agencies, that is funded by The California Endowment
Saturday’s “IluminArte” was an effort to bring the initiative goals to area youth, using music, song, and carnival-style workshops to expose students to ways they can better their physical, mental and emotional wellness.
They also learned how to request more funding for their schools.
Through games of “loteria,” similar to Bingo, Isabel Gutierrez, 17, showed other students and their parents how the Local Control School Funding Formula works, and how more money is being allocated to schools with large numbers of English Learner (EL) low-income students and foster care youth.
Gutierrez, who attends Roosevelt High School, told EGP she was very exited to be in charge of the workshop because she continues learning with the other students.
“Before I didn’t know where to go if I wanted to make a change in my school, now I’m a youth leader,” she said.
Laura Aguilar, 17, was in charge of a workshop titled “Budgeting for Justice,” during which she explained how the $12 billion budget for the 2014-2015 year would be distributed in the state.
“It is very important to know where the [state and federal] money is going to be invested,” she told EGP. “We can make a change in our communities, but we need to organize,” she added.
David Valdez, Director of Youth Development at the East LA-YMCA, told EGP he was pleased to see some many people at the festival, finding it especially rewarding to see students who are eager to learn, but need a place to get help from mentors.
Such is the case for Roosevelt High School student Diana Torres, who told EGP speaking with someone at the Latino Equality Alliance—an organization that offers help to the LGBT community—a few months ago was a great relief and has made a big difference in her life.
“My family is starting to accept me,” she said. “I finally feel that I can come out [of the closet] without fear,” said the 16-year-old who often participates in events that support the LGBT community. “I want to be an organizer,” she said.
At the end of the day, the students and others at the festival were able to take part in the filming of a new music video by Grammy award winning artists Quetzal Flores and Martha Gonzalez of Quetzal. The video, titled “Lights On,” was made to raise awareness of issues surrounding equity in school budgets.Print This Post
January 29, 2015 Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.