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Music and Babes with Partner Sitar Center PDF Print
Friday, 23 September 2016 17:08


"There are no seven wonders of the world in the eyes of a child. There are seven million."

- Walt Streightiff

by Janina Yates, Young Parents Program Youth Developer (and violinist)

During the months of August and September, LAYC's Young Parents Program partnered with DC's very own Sitar Arts Center to provide music classes for babies and toddlers and their parents and caregivers, as well as for expectant mothers. The aim of these classes was to advance the children's development, foster an early appreciation for the arts, and to provide opportunities for bonding between the child and parent.

During each class, Sylvia Zwi (the guest presenter from Sitar Arts Center) offered new ideas for parents to engage in their children's development. With each new item she pulled out of her bag, the children became mesmerized and the parents' curiosity was sparked. It was as if each song opened a new portal to a world of curiosity where learning took the form of limerick and understanding morphed into motion.

Regardless of the age or primary language of the child, these Early Childhood Music Classes provided age-appropriate singing, movement and rhythm instruments and accompanied the children's unearthing of the creative energy intrinsic to the arts. Participants learned to feel the tempo and keep a steady beat together; they found their singing voices and discovered the joy of sharing music with others in their community. Parents found themselves fluttering scarves along with their children, mimicking the flight of birds, and laughing along with one another at how enjoyable it was.

Every Friday for 6 weeks, LAYC's Community Room transformed into a cocoon of light-hearted learning. Different musical instruments caught different individual's attention. While the ukulele inspired many heads to sway, the violin entranced others to the point of staring with their mouths gaped open. The repertoire included both traditional and original songs, chants, stories, finger plays and nursery rhymes and the classes also provided parents and caregivers with a variety of ideas and strategies to continue the exploration beyond classes.

"This was such a heartwarming environment that encouraged my daughter and me to bond through music" exclaimed Katherine, a former YPP participant. "The class was full of joy and it was so relaxing to sing with the children and learn new songs in both English and Spanish. My daughter is excited to keep learning and has already asked me for a violin!"

If anything, the Young Parents Program Early Childhood Development Music Classes were a true testament to how many wonders exist in the world of music for those willing to look for them.

Last Updated on Friday, 23 September 2016 17:16
Promotor Pathway® Expands Into Two DCPS Schools! PDF Print
Tuesday, 13 September 2016 17:39

by Shayna Scholnick, Promotor Pathway® Director

The Promotor Pathway® is very excited to announce it's expansion into DC Public Schools (DCPS) for the 2016-2017 school year, placing two Promotores at Roosevelt High School and two Promotores at Anacostia High School. Through this direct partnership with DCPS, the Promotores will be able to provide intensive case management, mentoring, crisis intervention, advocacy, and follow up over an extended period of time to 100 more of the District's most vulnerable youth.

As the Promotor Pathway® model focuses on cultivating and maintaining a lasting, trusting relationship with the youth, Promotores placed in schools work with school staff and administrators to identify students in need of long-term support. These youth are often on the verge of disconnection and have a variety of risk factors that cannot be quickly addressed. Promotores then work to connect youth to a broad set of services in the community, reduce absenteeism, reduce behavioral issues in the school, and improve academic success.

This expansion also represents the first time LAYC will have a partnership with Anacostia High School and have staff onsite in Ward 8 to serve youth. We are looking forward to being able to reach more youth throughout the District and support them to and through high school graduation.

We're also proud to announce LAYC's Promotor Pathway® has met the federal standard to be designated an evidence-based model, based on it's randomized control study: Solutions for Youth.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 14 September 2016 13:24
Todas las Manos Cultural Event and Artist Tour PDF Print
Monday, 12 September 2016 17:17

The Latin American Youth Center (LAYC) co-hosted Todas Las Manos, an afternoon of poetry, music, and inspired conversation in memory of Orlando Letelier and Ronni Karpen Moffitt, with American University Museum at the Katzen Center, Institute of Policy Studies, and Aviva Kempner, Sunday, September 11, 2 p.m., at the Kay Spiritual Life Center at American University. A reception and artist tour of the mural installation Todas las Manos followed at the American University Museum Sculpture Garden at the Katzen Arts Center.

Todas las Manos lead artist Francisco Letelier, son of Orlando Letelier, hosted the cultural event, which featured prominent figures in Chilean and international arts and politics including:

  • Joe Eldridge, Human rights activist and co-founder of the Washington Office on Latin America
  • Patricio Zamorano, Chilean singer-songwriter
  • Peter Kornbluh, Author of The Pinochet File: A Declassified Dossier on Atrocity and Accountability and Director of the Chile documentation project at the National Security Archive
  • Aviva Kempner, Award-winning filmmaker and Director of the Ciesla Foundation
  • Quique Aviles, Salvadoran poet and performer
  • John Cavanagh, Director of the Institute for Policy Studies
  • Lori Kaplan, President & CEO of the Latin American Youth Center.

Todas Las Manos commemorates the 40th anniversary of the assassinations of Francisco's father, former Chilean Ambassador Orlando Letelier, and co-worker Ronni Karpen Moffitt. The large-scale installation depicts Orlando Letelier, Ronni Karpen Moffitt, Rodrigo Rojas, and other victims of Pinochet's dictatorship. Rodrigo Rojas was a young photographer who was burned alive when he returned to Chile during a street demonstration against the dictatorship. Rodrigo was 18 at the time of his death. He was a student at Wilson High School in northwest Washington and an art and media program participant at the Latin American Youth Center, as are the young people working with Francisco Letelier on the mural. Letelier, an internationally-known muralist based in Venice, California, and LAYC young artists began working on the installation in early August, which will be on exhibit through October 23, 2016.

LAYC is proud that young artists from its art and media program worked with Francisco Letelier on the Todas Las Manos mural. One of these was Chidubem who read a poem of her own inspiration at the event, shared below with permission from the author. 

Splash of Color

by Chidubem Ekwem


White was the color, the only one we know

White is for the disappeared hidden in snow


Red was one color, used to bring out passion

Also blood is red, then spilled in a timely fashion


Blue is used to make a song and made to chill

It sings a lullaby that is meant to heal


Orange is used to climb a ladder, time is ever slow

However time will go on and change has to flow


Yellow could help shine light on the snow

Will we ever find it, would we ever know?


Green is always humming and continues to grow

It wraps up the bodies and ties them with a bow


Truly, how beautiful is a dying pink and red rose?

Death kills, at this point I guess everything goes


Purple wants to fight but calm it down to the ground

Time is a bomb, please don't make a sound


Brown is for the secrets buried in the cold dirt, a book

Document, secrets, are deeper; take a closer look


Black is the end, but it's also the beginning

Life is full of loss so when are you winning?


Last Updated on Tuesday, 13 September 2016 11:23
Partner Spotlight: IKEA College Park PDF Print
Thursday, 08 September 2016 13:49
IKEA College Park staff volunteers designed and installed LAYC's Drop-in Center Hope's Closet for homeless and runaway youth.

IKEA College Park staff volunteers designed and installed LAYC's Drop-in Center Hope's Closet for homeless and runaway youth.

We needed a bright, beautiful space to store and display clothing, shoes, diapers, and other supplies for the youth who use LAYC's Drop-in Center for homeless and runaway youth, and thanks to IKEA College Park (and everyone who voted for us, more on that later), we've got it! Welcome to Hope's Closet, LAYC's newest addition to our Safe Housing programs!

Earlier this year, LAYC won IKEA's Life Improvement Challenge, which gives charities and institutions nationwide the materials to update and upgrade their infrastructure. After a spirited campaign for votes on IKEA's Life Improvement Challenge website, LAYC won the contest! We were up against another organization, also with a very worthy cause. The prize enabled LAYC to dream-up a resource missing from its core services: a supply closet where homeless youth could access essential items. Drop-in Center staff worked with IKEA College Park who helped design, renovate, and transform the garage space into a needed resource for homeless youth. IKEA donated the furniture and staff volunteers built and installed it, pictured above. Hope's Closet is also outfitted with day lockers for youth to store their belongings while they use the Drop-in Center's other facilities, which include showers, washers and dryers, nap rooms, kitchen and dining room, computer lab, and private counseling rooms.

"We are so thankful to IKEA for partnering with us to create this beautiful space. The volunteers came with smiles on their faces ready to transform the crowded, disorganized space into a room that honors the dignity of the youth we see in the Drop-in Center every day," said LAYC President & CEO Lori Kaplan.

Between the paint, the furniture, and labor, IKEA College Park donated roughly $8,500 in goods and services to make Hope's Closet a reality! IKEA Local Marketing Specialist Dale Lehman said, "IKEA is guided by our vision of creating a better everyday life for people and is committed to be a meaningful and trusted company both globally and locally. Co-workers from IKEA College Park are proud to make a difference close to home through participation in the LAYC Life Improvement Challenge by designing a welcoming, clean, and organized space that will become an important resource for homeless and runaway youth in the District."

LAYC's Drop-in Center is a one-stop resource for the District's homeless and runaway youth population. Open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., the Drop-in Center welcomes youth of all backgrounds seeking housing programs and emergency shelters, educational re-engagement, help finding jobs, support in accessing public benefits, and long-term case management. The Drop-in Center is part of LAYC's Safe Housing programs, which operates a street outreach program to reach homeless and runaway youth and several transitional housing and foster care programs. The programs specialize in serving young parents, LGBT youth, immigrant youth, and youth exiting foster care.

With IKEA College Park's partnership, the Drop-in Center can better serve our community's most vulnerable youth with Hope's Closet.

Last Updated on Thursday, 08 September 2016 16:14
Montgomery County Summer Youth Connect Networking Breakfast A Success! PDF Print
Tuesday, 09 August 2016 17:28

"Don't be afraid go out on a limb, that's generally where the fruit is," said Gabriel Albornoz, Director of the Montgomery County Recreation Department and former LAYC director of advocacy to a room of 120 youth and 38 employers attending the Maryland Multicultural Youth Centers' (MMYC) Summer Youth Connect Networking Breakfast, a networking opportunity for youth and employers participating in the Summer Youth Connect Internship program. The breakfast, which took place July 29 at the Silver Spring Civic Building, was another successful event hosted by MMYC for the dozens of youth who seek meaningful work experiences and the employer partners who mentor and employ the youth for six weeks during the summer.

As keynote speaker Gabriel Albornoz, declared, "I see a room full of potential." County Executive Ike Leggett appointed Albornoz to serve in January 2007. At age 30, he became the youngest cabinet level appointment in the history of Montgomery County. As Director of the Department, he is responsible for overseeing 39 Recreation facilities including community recreation centers, administrative offices, aquatic centers, and senior centers, over 3,000 employees, and manages the Department's $33 million budget. 

MMYC's Summer Youth Connect Internship program provides eligible Montgomery County youth ages 16-24 with the opportunity to gain valuable and paid work experience. Public, private, and non-profit businesses, government, and community-based organizations provide safe and meaningful workplace experiences in high-growth industries. The program works closely with youth to help them succeed in the workplace, advance their education, and become strong leaders and engaged citizens. Youth gain financial management skills and hands-on work experience, and connect with positive adult role models. In addition, they improve their interpersonal and communication skills and build connections for future work opportunities. In turn, businesses and agencies make a positive contribution to youth in the community.

"The Summer Youth Connect Internship program provides youth ages 16-24 with great work opportunities that allow them to gain skills. Over the past 10 years, my favorite part has been seeing the growth in our youth's confidence," said Lupi Quinteros-Grady, Acting Managing Director of LAYC's Maryland Multicultural Youth Centers. "For many of the youth, this becomes their first work experience, and they begin to understand how to navigate the world of work. Equally important, they learn about what employers are looking for in an employee."

Participating businesses and agencies included: Lead4Life, Inc; Housing Opportunities Commission of Montgomery County; National Park Service's President's Park; United States Department of Agriculture; Gaithersburg-Germantown Chamber of Commerce; Montgomery County Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation; Silver Spring Regional Center; and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's AimHi Program.

"I have been a placement partner for MMYC's Summer Youth Connect Internship program for the past 10 years, and this program has been excellent for businesses and for the community. Over the last decade I have worked with at least 10 interns, several of which have gone on to get their insurance licenses and have been hired by me or other State Farm agents," said Ray Mensah, State Farm Insurance Agent.

The Summer Youth Connect Internship program is possible thanks to WorkSource Montgomery; Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation; Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services; Montgomery County Council; and the Community Foundation in Montgomery County.

Last Updated on Thursday, 11 August 2016 09:14
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