Para Los NiÃ±os Receives Grant For New Latino Arts Program
Organized just six years ago by a group of Latino parents concerned about the education their children were receiving, Burien-based Para Los NiÃ±os today operates three programs in seven Highline schools.
And in January, Para Los NiÃ±os â€“ â€œFor the Childrenâ€ â€“ will begin yet another program â€œto add arts and culture in an education environment,â€ says executive director Sharonne Navas.
Funding for the new program comes from a $1,500 Latino Led Arts and Media Grant, which was presented to the group at last monthâ€™s Latino Community Fund Summit and Awards Ceremony at Bellevue Community College.
Para Los NiÃ±os received the grant â€œfor their work to enhance art projects through Aprendamos Juntos (â€œLetâ€™s Learn Togetherâ€), which integrates child and parent learning to boost academic success, build childrenâ€™s emotional development, and support parenting.â€
Aprendos Juntos is one of the three programs already conducted in the schools by Para Los NiÃ±os.
The new arts program will focus on Latino art and culture so students from 24 different countries donâ€™t lose their cultural heritage. Participating students will work on perfecting their bilingual skills, Navas says.
â€œWe encourage (Latino students) to be bilingual and bi-cultural,” Navas added. “Studies show that bilingual students do better academically, with life skills, and in standard testing if they donâ€™t avoid their primary language while learning a secondary language.â€
Activities in the art program will include dance, ceramics, and literature that takes stories from Latino cultural history and transfers them to painted art.
â€œWeâ€™ll try for about 100 kids and build from this, including more children as they get more funding for this program,â€ she adds.
One of the ideas behind this program is that itâ€™s easier â€œto bring the similarities of both cultures to non-Latino kids if Latino kids do this and make it for others to see and experience.â€
Para Los NiÃ±osâ€™ other programs already underway are Descubrlendo Nuestra Cultura â€“ â€œDiscovering Our Cultureâ€ â€“ and the New Immigrant Literacy Program.
Two programs are in grades K-6 and the third is for high school students. And student participation is growing.
â€œLast year we had about 1,200 students in the primary program in elementary schools,â€ Navas notes. â€œThis year we have about 1,600.â€
There is also an ESL (English as a Second Language) component for the parents of these children. As many as 98 percent of them speak only Spanish.
â€œThe parents have a harder time learning to be bi-cultural and we teach biculturalism to them too.â€
Navas says Para Los NiÃ±os, a local community based organization, started in 2003 â€œwhen a group of Latino parents got together about concerns they had about the education system and their children.” The organization incorporated in 2006.
Their objective is â€œfostering academic success for every Latino student through parent and community involvement.â€ And itâ€™s working.
Today, she says, children participating in programs through Para Los NiÃ±os â€œare excelling in their classrooms.â€