Summer can be a tricky time for some Phoenix families. The same childcare and after-school resources are often not available, causing a financial and emotional strain on working parents.
Luckily, in the heart of South Phoenix, Wesley Community Center offers a variety of programs for school age children during the summer months. Through an incredible outpouring of community support, the children are fed and provided a variety of classes during the work hours.
Since the inception of the Domestic Program (roughly 20 years ago), Esperança has partnered with Wesley to offer a variety of health classes to these Title I children and their parents.
This year, we prepared a new group of kids for the school year by offering the Salud con Sabor Latino (Health with a Latin Flavor) program. Over six weeks, the children are taught how eat and live healthy while staying true to their Latino culture… even when food is scarce, even when money is tight.
When the gym doors burst open at 2:00PM, 15 elementary schoolers come barreling into class, greeting Julieta with shouts of, “what will we eat today??”
It’s hard not to get excited when the class begins with snack time!
Julieta, Esperança’s Community Health Educator, always makes a point to bring food that relates to the class subject. On this particular occasion, the class was talking about the five food groups on MyPlate, and the kids were able to try samples from each.
Julieta laughs, remembering the lesson clearly because Leilani (an effervescent 10 year-old) asked, “is pan dulce a grain?”
But as much charisma as there is in Wesley, there is also tremendous need.
At the end of every class, the children idle around Julieta’s table, asking, “can I bring home food to my mom? ..Brother? ..Sister?”
Most of the children, when searching through Julieta’s prize bin, look right past the footballs and jump ropes…
“Do you have any markers?”
“My mom told me to look for folders.”
The class is about to enter 5th grade and their families are struggling to afford new school supplies.
In response to this tremendous need, Julieta has made sure to add a variety of materials to her prize bin to ensure that, body and mind, our kids are off to a great start to the school year!