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January 29, 2019

The Hispanic Community Embraces Mind in the Making: Part I

Editor’s Note: The Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading (SCGLR) offers Mind in the Making workshops throughout the region. Groups of 15 or more receive support from The Patterson Foundation to help with the cost of meals and childcare. Due to interest from the Hispanic community, a group of bilingual facilitators – Team Amigo – went through a special training program led by Elizabeth Sierra. These individuals will now join more than 70 facilitators offering Mind in the Making workshops in Charlotte, DeSoto, Manatee, and Sarasota counties. SCGLR Engagement Team member, Jenifer Johnson, shares her reflections on visiting Team Amigo.

The energy in this room is so refreshing. I don’t speak Spanish, yet, but just from looking at the faces and hearing the voices in the room, I know every person is engaged and having fun. Their smiles and contagious laughter tell a story in a universal language.

Team Amigo, led by Mind in the Making Facilitator, Elizabeth Sierra, is a group of six eager bilingual individuals eager to share Mind in the Making with parents, grandparents, educators, caregivers, and healthcare workers in our Hispanic neighborhoods.

Like all facilitators going through the Mind in the Making training, this group has questions, and they participate eagerly learning from both Elizabeth and each other. I’m impressed with their determination to master the material and understand the interactive process of leading a cohort. However, as a facilitator myself, I know Lizzie and I can’t give an exact answer to every question. You see, we know that Mind in the Making isn’t just another workshop, it’s an experience that can influence every aspect of your life.

Each cohort learns the same material, but each group is unique, bringing different perspectives forward during the modules. That’s one of the beauties of this kind of experience. Mind in the Making is so interactive that it offers each participant an opportunity to get what they want from the workshops and discussions. The benefits of the Mind in the Making experience reach parents, teachers, grandparents, leaders…truly anyone that has children in their lives.

I find myself grinning from ear to ear as I observe Team Amigo smiling and nodding as they watch the videos showing the latest brain research, laughing as they participate in activities designed to bring executive function skills to life, and conversing animatedly as they discuss the seven essential life skills every child needs. Part of the reason I’m smiling is this group is in for a real treat at the end of their training. They have no idea what awaits them…the best is yet to come!

Each facilitator will experience shifts in their relationships with the children in their families and the children they teach as they put the new strategies into practice. As facilitators, they’ll observe ‘aha’ moments from participants in the cohorts they lead. They will connect with each participant as they share stories of triumphs and tears, and they will feel the bonds grow as trust and comfort levels build.

I’m excited for these facilitators to get out into the community and share brain science with our Spanish-speaking friends. I’m equally happy for these new friends to get the experience of Mind in the Making from these eager and energetic bilingual facilitators!

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