Para Los Niños Receives Grant For New Latino Arts Program

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by Ralph Nichols

Organized just six years ago by a group of Latino parents concerned about the education their children were receiving, Burien-based Para Los Niños today operates three programs in seven Highline schools.

And in January, Para Los Niños – “For the Children” – will begin yet another program “to add arts and culture in an education environment,” 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 month’s Latino Community Fund Summit and Awards Ceremony at Bellevue Community College.

Para Los Niños received the grant “for their work to enhance art projects through Aprendamos Juntos (“Let’s Learn Together”), which integrates child and parent learning to boost academic success, build children’s emotional development, and support parenting.”

Aprendos Juntos is one of the three programs already conducted in the schools by Para Los Niños.

The new arts program will focus on Latino art and culture so students from 24 different countries don’t lose their cultural heritage. Participating students will work on perfecting their bilingual skills, Navas says.

“We 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 don’t avoid their primary language while learning a secondary language.”

Activities in the art program will include dance, ceramics, and literature that takes stories from Latino cultural history and transfers them to painted art.

“We’ll try for about 100 kids and build from this, including more children as they get more funding for this program,” she adds.

One of the ideas behind this program is that it’s easier “to bring the similarities of both cultures to non-Latino kids if Latino kids do this and make it for others to see and experience.”

Para Los Niños’ other programs already underway are Descubrlendo Nuestra Cultura – “Discovering Our Culture” – 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.

“Last year we had about 1,200 students in the primary program in elementary schools,” Navas notes. “This year we have about 1,600.”

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.

“The parents have a harder time learning to be bi-cultural and we teach biculturalism to them too.”

Navas says Para Los Niños, a local community based organization, started in 2003 “when 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 “fostering academic success for every Latino student through parent and community involvement.” And it’s working.

Today, she says, children participating in programs through Para Los Niños “are excelling in their classrooms.”

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One Response to “Para Los Niños Receives Grant For New Latino Arts Program”
  1. Beth Butler says:

    I would love to donate some of our Boca Beth bilingual products to these programs. Could someone call me from Para los niños please?

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