Fighting Poverty with Passion
April was an important month for the civic engagement piece of the Latinx Health Initiative. In tackling this component of program design, we have partnered with a new latinx education advocacy non-profit, Nuestra Voz. Through their parent champion circles, they work alongside latinx parents to advocate for their children within the decentralized school system. While this is a different approach to civic engagement than CBNO has taken in the past, this approach is inclusive in meeting folks where they are at. Because of the huge distrust of government within this community, we feel it is very important to connect with the community through trusted avenues, confronting issues the community feels comfortable with.
In April we had two big events that highlighted the progress of latinx civic engagement in New Orleans. The first was called the “Junta del Pueblo” which was created and organized by our parent-leaders. This was both a recruitment event as well as a call to action. The parents came up with four committees that would improve life for the latinx community in New Orleans. This process has encouraged community members to think through power dynamics, resources, decision-making and leadership. At the event, folks got an introduction to the organization, an overview of how parents are engaging civically through the committees, and were also able to get a free basic check-up from Tulane medical students. We had a great turnout and folks left feeling power in the collective voice of their community.
The second exciting civic engagement oriented event during April was the graduation of 23 new latinx leaders from the parent champion circle. In this 10 week course, parents come together twice a week to learn English, develop skills in order to navigate the school system, and learn the rights of their children as well as their own rights as parent advocates. It was incredible to celebrate their new knowledge and a community growing its strength to defend the rights of their children. These leaders are now responsible for sharing this information and plugging other latinx community members into other services especially the upcoming free programs at Refresh.