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Giovanna Olea works for CU-CitizenAccess.org as a community ambassador in a computer lab at Shadow Wood Mobile Home Park. CU-CitizenAccess.org has opened and operated a computer lab within the park for the community since 2011. Olea writes about her experiences here.
By Giovanna Olea/For CU-CitizenAccess.org – The computer lab at Shadow Wood Mobile Home Park planned another special day to celebrate as a community. We celebrated “El Dia del Nino,” in honor of the children.
Children’s Day is an important celebration for most Latin American countries, as it is for other countries around the world. Children’s Day was established years ago by the World Conference for the Well-being of Children to help protect children’s rights. It means a lot for many families that children’s rights are actually helping to put an end to child abuse. The children are our future, so we have to celebrate their every accomplishment, and we also have to make sure their rights are respected.
About a week before the celebration, I asked the kids to find things at home that they did not use anymore. For example, tissue paper, newspaper, and other things. We actually made piñatas out of the things they collected. I believe it is important that we teach children that we can recycle things and use them to create other things, like a piñata. I showed the kids how to make our own glue with flour and water. We blew a balloon to use it to mold the piñata, and we colored and cut the tissue paper into pieces to stick on the piñata.
We had a great time making and decorating the piñata out of the things that the kids had no idea could be reused to create cool stuff. With the tissue paper that was left out, we made our own party garlands. We also blew up more balloons and put them all around the place. Although we ended up having the party at a different place, we still had fun decorating the lab. I made the treat bags and gave them to the kids at the party. There was pizza, cupcakes, cookies, drinks, ice cream, and so much more.
Children’s Day was a success; the kids had fun sharing and telling what they learned and how the decorations and piñata were made. They now know how to make their own piñata at home for their own parties. I personally had the opportunity to spend time and share stories about the children to the children’s mothers. I am glad to see how the kids are building close relationships with the other kids and how they are helping each other to overcome challenges. I have to thank many mothers who helped me watch over the kids and Pamela Dempsey, who contributed to make this celebration possible.
In 2012, CU-CitizenAccess.org worked with faculty from the Graduate School of Library and Information Science to secure a grant from the state that offers skills training to help participants secure jobs. The money was used to place community ambassadors in public computer labs to offer computer literacy training and workshops to underserved populations from the Urbana Free Library, Salt and Light Food Pantry and Shadow Wood Mobile Home Park as well as a public computer lab in East St. Louis. At the end of the grant, CU-CitizenAccess.org retained Olea to continue her work.