Empowering Youth Through Art and Heritage
22 December 2021
Poudre River Public Library District, Colorado, United States
IMAGINANTE is the Spanish word for IMAGINER: One who imagines, who dreams, who forms ideas; a contriver.
“Understanding how informal and formal learning environments have an impact on adolescent development and literacy acquisition is of key importance in determining how librarians must serve teens in the 21st century.” -Young Adult Library Association (YALSA)
Low-income Latino youth are an at-risk population. They can easily become disconnected from school, their communities, and often at times from their families and heritage. The consequences of this disconnection could result in gang membership, school failure, drug use and low esteem. The lack of appropriate venues to learn about and develop a love for literacy, the arts, and the culture, could be the reason of this disconnection.
The Poudre River Public Library District’s Community Outreach Department strives to create and implement library programs that are culturally inclusive and responsive to traditionally marginalized populations.
In order to re-engage this population, the Outreach Department proposed IMAGINANTES, a summer bilingual art workshop free of charge, focused primarily on the Latinx youth, ages 13 to 17, but including other English Language Learners and Spanish language learners. This workshop is an opportunity for Latinx Youth to connect to their heritage, their community, and their future. Not only can they delve into art, but they are also encouraged to explore issues they face around diversity and to express their stories in a safe and creative environment.
Through a week-long of interactive presentations, field trips to cultural institutions, hands-on group projects, career exploration and a closing presentation and ceremony, participants learn about their heritage, their community, and the importance of being active members of society while experiencing a sense of personal accomplishment and recognition.
What began in 2011 with the creation of a Community Mural as a final project, has evolved into artistic self-discovery through different forms of art that includes music, theatre, videography and illustration, but also science. In order to engage students in these activities, we closely collaborate with entrepreneurs, authors, scholars and artists.
Participants are empowered by their experience at IMAGINANTES and many decide to apply to college – a path they did not imagine for themselves prior. One of these college students, Luci, described how valuable her experience at IMAGINANTES was:
“IMAGINANTES helped me explore new things like theatre, art and music. It also helped me meet new people and understand the diversity around my community. When applying to college I was able to talk about these experiences and that landed me in an amazing leadership program that gave me connections in my college and taught me how to be a leader and make an impact on my community.”
Luci, is a successful young woman who pursued a career as Astrophysicist. IMAGINANTES made a profound impact in her life. Luci was the facilitator of the 2019 IMAGINANTES summer workshop where her love for science, art and community inspired and transformed the lives of other teens.
Empowered teens can become catalyst of change!
IMAGINANTES is possible thanks to an amazing group of partners and sponsors. I would like to thank the Paterson Family Foundation who has been instrumental in facilitating this workshop in our community.