Monday, September 21, 2020

Teaching Little Ones about Civic Engagement

Teaching Little Ones about Civic Engagement

The following is a guest post by Latina mom, Monika Aldarondo. It's part of our Hispanic Heritage Month 2020 series.


I was raised to share my time, talent, and treasure with my community. I want to pass on those values. It is challenging to find ways to authentically engage in serving our community with little ones when all is well with the world, but this year, it is even harder.

That’s where connecting with organizations such as Community Impact Lab (CIL) is so helpful. The founder, Xouhoa Bowen, is a mom of young kids that has made it her mission to create opportunities for families to engage in meaningful ways to give back to our community.

My 5-year-old has been posing questions that frame our daily exploration. But last week, I posed a question: How can we share with our community? 

I knew that morning we would be spending the day participating in CIL’s school supply drive. I had posted about local school supply drives for the children of migrant workers. Xouhoa messaged me that she wanted to help. CIL had requested a list of supplies from the community for local schools. Xouhoa collected and distributed supplies from her home. Since the usual volunteer days of assembling supplies are not possible in the time of COVID-19, my son and I picked up the supplies from her porch. We brought them home to assemble into sets before driving them an hour to another group that was distributing supply-filled backpacks in San Jose and to migrant farmworker families in Salinas. 

Teaching Little Ones about Civic Engagement



As my son grows, I want him to witness us engaging in our community. Many of the families receiving these bags are doing the labor that allows us to stay safe and fed at home during the pandemic... and now during forest-fire-induced-smoky skies. 

Speaking of their contribution to our lives was step one. Taking actions that show how we depend on each other and must hold up our end of taking care of everyone in our community is critical. I don’t believe that a bag of supplies is equal to their contribution to us. But, we do try to find ways to give back despite the challenges of this time.

My son may not see or understand voter drives, giving to community fundraising campaigns, or calling elected officials that I engage in (yet). But he does understand that kids need supplies to create and learn. So we include him there. The rest he can witness by observing us, and we will include him more and more as he grows.
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Monika Aldarondo is a former arts educator, and current photographer and creative shape-shifter with Puerto Rican roots. She posts about her bilingual home/un-schooling journey on Instagram @librolovinmama. Her photography and creative projects can be found at laancla.com

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