Chicana/o Studies Students Guide Children to Help Improve Our Planet

  • A decorated San Fernando home marked the celebration place of the Good Heart Chicana/o and Native Science project. The celebration on April 25 included life-sized models and displays of environmental projects, which were guided by CSUN Chicana/o Studies students. Photo courtesy of Alonso Garcia Flores.

  • A family receives gift bags at the April 25 celebration of the Good Heart Chicana/o and Native Science project

    A family receives gift bags at the April 25 celebration. Photo courtesy of Alonso Garcia Flores.

CSUN Chicana/o studies students provided mentorship and education to elementary school students and together resiliently finished a special environmental project.

The result of this collaboration, in which future teacher candidates enrolled in the CHS 480 Chicana/o Children’s Literature in Communities course designed and implemented virtual lessons for 100 children, was the Good Heart Chicana/o and Native Science project. The project culminated on April 25 in San Fernando with a drive-by celebration featuring life-size models of ecosystems.

“When COVID hit last year we thought the project was doomed,” said Rosa RiVera Furumoto, professor and associate chair of the CSUN Chicana/o Studies Department. “I couldn’t imagine that the children and families would voluntarily agree to do more Zoom so that they could participate in the Good Heart Science Project. But, I was wrong. Instead of losing families, we grew,”

The STEAM project serves children from five local elementary schools and is sponsored by the CSUN Chicana/o Studies Department and Padres Pioneros-Parent Pioneers, a local group of Latina parent and grandparent environmental leaders dedicated to environmental justice. The project aims to get children and their families more interested in our planet by including relevant children’s literature and hands-on exploration. It recently managed to push through COVID-19 challenges through the determination of the children involved and their families, as well as the CSUN students who served as educators as well as role models.

“The children and their families, the parent and grandparent leaders, and the CSUN students remind us of what we can do when we work together for the common goal of healing the planet and ourselves” said Furumoto.

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