Empowering Indigenous Youth for a Healthy Future

by Rising Minds
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Empowering Indigenous Youth for a Healthy Future
Empowering Indigenous Youth for a Healthy Future
Empowering Indigenous Youth for a Healthy Future
Empowering Indigenous Youth for a Healthy Future
Empowering Indigenous Youth for a Healthy Future
Empowering Indigenous Youth for a Healthy Future
Empowering Indigenous Youth for a Healthy Future
Empowering Indigenous Youth for a Healthy Future
Empowering Indigenous Youth for a Healthy Future
Empowering Indigenous Youth for a Healthy Future
Empowering Indigenous Youth for a Healthy Future
Empowering Indigenous Youth for a Healthy Future
Empowering Indigenous Youth for a Healthy Future
The RM Youth Group
The RM Youth Group

In mid-April, we were able to host our first in-person, outdoor, and socially distanced activity. After more than a year of remote learning and the suspension of in-person programming, it was great to be able to gather once again. In early May, with schools resuming classes, we began our in-school health trainings. Unfortunately, due an increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in-person classes have been suspended once again. 

Hosting in-person programming is a top priority of Rising Minds. Most schools have not had consistent in-person classes since March 2020 and kids really benefit from in-person learning and activities. We are continuing to stay vigilant and monitor the number of cases in Guatemala and San Juan La Laguna to ensure the health and safety of our community. Due to the low transmission of COVID-19 outdoors, we were still able to offer our outdoor enrichment activities which include health trainings, social emotional learning (SEL) activities, and Forest Playgroup adventures. 

Through hands-on and engaging curriculum and activities, our program is providing social emotional learning, physical fitness, and academic enrichment opportunities. The effects of the pandemic are far reaching and kids have lost valuable learning time. Our SEL curriculum is working to instill a growth mindset and encourage mindfulness. Using a whole child approach to our health trainings and enrichment programming, we recognize the importance of fostering the well being of our partner students, which in return will lead to stronger communities. Activities include mindfulness meditation, gardening, bird watching, lakeshore cleanups, and scavenger hunts. 

Communities all over the world are demonstrating how resilient they are. The pandemic has altered lives, systems, and interactions. Our Community Health Educator, Bonnie, and our partner youth group are persevering through unprecedented and wild times. Continue to follow along and offer your support as the Rising Minds team navigates the lasting effects of the pandemic. 

Field trip to a local farm
Field trip to a local farm
Walking to the beach cleanup
Walking to the beach cleanup
Group picture with Youth Leaders
Group picture with Youth Leaders
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First in-person activity in over a year!
First in-person activity in over a year!

March marked the one year anniversary of the COVID-19 pandemic. After a year of lockdowns, travel bans, quarantine, distancing, and mask wearing, in-person learning and prep-pandemic activities are starting to resume. By switching to remote learning, practicing physical distancing, and staying home, we’ve all been doing our part in keeping ourselves and others safe. As vaccines roll out around the world we are hopeful for the future.

In mid-April, we were able to host our first in-person, outdoor, and socially distanced activity. After more than a year of remote learning and the suspension of in-person programming, it was great to be able to gather once again. Last week marked our first in-school health training since March 2020. 

The effects of the pandemic are far reaching. In addition to disease prevention, there is an increased need for mental health and social emotional learning (SEL) curriculum. After working tirelessly over the past year to adapt our programming to at-home learning environments and updating curriculum to address current needs, we’ve begun to implement our new health educational programming. 

CASEL defines social emotional learning as the “process through which all young people and adults acquire and apply the knowledge, skills, and attitudes to develop healthy identities, manage emotions and achieve personal and collective goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain supportive relationships, and make responsible and caring decisions.” SEL is extremely important for helping preschool children to identify and manage their emotions, especially amongst the trying and uncertain times  of the pandemic. Our activities over the next few months will focus on the Five Core Competencies: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision making. As always, we have adapted this framework to be culturally relevant, competent, and humble to be delivered in the context of our partner preschool in Guatemala. Last week’s introduced self-awareness. 

As we begin to navigate what life will be like post-pandemic, it is crucial to spend time promoting kids’ social and emotional development. Stay tuned for more SEL and disease prevention activities in the coming weeks. 

Working on self-awareness
Working on self-awareness
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Bonnie, pictured with her daughter, Yamile
Bonnie, pictured with her daughter, Yamile

To our community partners, donors, and volunteers, thank you for your support during this wild and unprecedented year. Because of you, we have been able to successfully adapt our programming to meet new community identified needs and challenges due to the pandemic. 

Since our last update in early fall, we have provided 80 students with Adventure Guides, school supply kits, and new toothbrushes and toothpaste. Students have not been in-school since mid-March which has had significant effects on learning, mental health, and child development. 

Bonnie, our community health educator, comments, “when the pandemic began, everything was so confusing and uncertain, we initially thought we would be out of school for a few weeks, or at most, a few months, and then everything would go back to normal.” She says “the pandemic has had a tremendous impact on Guatemala’s education system.”

Everyone around the world is adapting to remote distant learning and Guatemala is no exception. However, many families in rural Guatemala don’t have access to the internet or technology devices to participate in virtual classes. “Teachers looked for a way to work with their students and many did it virtually, but unfortunately in Guatemala not everyone has access to technology, especially the youngest students in schools, so how could teachers work with those children who were left wanting to continue learning creatively?” states Bonnie. 

To address this need, Bonnie says “The most feasible strategy that the Rising Mind team considered was to create an adventure journal where each activity included detailed instructions for the student and family.” Furthermore, “our goal is that our students receive personalized activities and education materials and that we create an education model without barriers, where the child builds on his or her own learning, regardless of whether the teacher is present or not.” 

Currently, we are charting out plans and creating materials for the 2021 school year. Stay tuned for some epic educational coloring books, socially-distanced Forest Playgroup outdoor adventures, and the pilot of a new club, geared toward older kids (8-12 years old). 

Until then, we wish you and yours a very happy, safe, and healthy new year!

Britany & Aylin receiving their Adventure Journals
Britany & Aylin receiving their Adventure Journals
Scenes from our Adventure Journal distribution
Scenes from our Adventure Journal distribution
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Jorgito working in his activity book at home
Jorgito working in his activity book at home

Rising Minds has always been focused on addressing community identified needs related to health and nutrition, employment, and sustainable agriculture. The COVID-19 pandemic has reinforced the necessity of working alongside Guatemala’s most vulnerable populations to provide health workshops and educational materials, and combat food insecurity with the implementation of family and community gardens. The RM team has spent the last few months developing a COVID-19 Relief Action Plan to adapt our programming to address new community identified challenges due to today’s reality.  

As in-person classes were suspended in mid-March in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, schools switched to remote and distance learning.  Educators, students, parents, and care-givers all over the world are adapting to the reality and challenges of remote learning. Guatemala is no exception. Many families in rural Guatemala don’t have access to technology and the internet to participate in virtual classes, making it harder to stay up to date and engaged. Teachers are doing their best to accommodate varying circumstances, but with already limited resources, it is proving difficult to provide at home educational materials to all. We want to help address this need by providing at-home resources and materials to empower parents and caregivers to confidently teach and inspire children to learn. 

The Rising Minds Adventure Guide will encourage children and families to learn about health, wellness and the environment. With daily challenges, observations, prompts and activities, the Adventure Guide will facilitate engagement with important topics, often overlooked by traditional curriculum, related to disease prevention, nutrition, mental health, climate change, and environmental education and conservation. Curriculum developed for our In-School Health Training Initiative will find a home in the Adventure Guide and we will be able to engage both students and their families. Some example activities include making hand sanitizer, sanitizing household products, a teeth brushing challenge, following a recipe to make a healthy and nutritious meal, and daily meditation and yoga exercises. Our guide will be divided into weekly activities and challenges. We will schedule check-ins, all socially distanced and following safety protocols, to monitor the progress and completion of the activities and to provide necessary support to our partner families. We’re excited to roll out this at-home resource and activity guide and can’t wait to be back in action working to serve the children and families of San Juan La Laguna. 

Getting to know our body (pre-COVID, at school)
Getting to know our body (pre-COVID, at school)
My Marvelous Body
My Marvelous Body
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Puzzle Time
Puzzle Time

This year is definitely off to an unexpected start! The school year started in mid-January and shortly after, Rising Minds began it’s weekly health trainings with our partner preschool, CEIBI. Like previous years, we kicked-off the 2020 training series with our disease prevention unit. We started by learning about the anatomy of the human body. Unfortunately, we were only able to host four trainings before programming was suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In mid-March, as President Giammattei announced the first confirmed case in Guatemala, Rising Minds made the decision to suspend all programming in efforts to prioritize the health and safety of our staff and community partners. We are following all recommendations set by WHO, the Ministry of Health, and CDC, and are abiding by protocols and restrictions set by the Guatemalan Government.

Like everyone, we are doing our best to adjust to the “new normal.” We are spending this time working on curriculum development, so that if, and when, schools are back in session we can hit the ground running hosting workshops and trainings. We are also exploring ways in which we can provide information virtually and in the form of take home packets. It is more important than ever to spend time talking and teaching about  disease prevention. In Guatemala, the majority of common illnesses and infections are related to hygiene and can be prevented and controlled through appropriate personal hygiene practices. Regular hand-washing, particularly before and after certain activities, is one of the best ways to remove germs, avoid getting sick, and prevent the spread of germs to others. In addition to preventing common illnesses, these hygiene practices can help to curb the spread of COVID-19. 

These are some wild, uncertain, and trying times and we are doing our best to adapt, stay positive, be kind, and help those in need. 

Learning about the anatomy of the human body
Learning about the anatomy of the human body
Learning about the parts of the body
Learning about the parts of the body
Head, Shoulders, Knees & Toes
Head, Shoulders, Knees & Toes
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Rising Minds

Location: Portland, ME - USA
Website:
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Project Leader:
Fallon Burke
Phippsburg, ME United States
$8,600 raised of $10,000 goal
 
200 donations
$1,400 to go
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