Aprendamos is a family education program that teaches children of all ages techniques to become leaders by using popular education. This program takes place in a different locations every year throughout Los Angeles. This fall, Aprendamos joined forces with The Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority to provide a seven week long program for 4th, 5th and 6th graders at Vista Hermosa Natural Park to teach kids how to become Junior Naturalists.
Eighteen children and their family members met twice a week and enjoyed activities including workshops on respecting nature, each other and themselves, water conservation techniques and how to take better care of our planet using what mother earth has to offer in a moderate manner. They enjoyed activities that made learning fun. Some of these activities include theater, workshops, field trips and mural painting.
According to Mariella Saba, Aprendamos Program Coordinator, this year youth were "...working intergenerationally on solutions to share hope and knowledge for the present abuses of our earth."
According to Alejandra Ayala, Aprendamos Staff, “For me it was incredible how the children, made us become self aware of how to conserve water, trees and the animal kingdom.
During a field trip to Franklin Canyon these Junior Naturalists had the opportunity to interact with wildlife, including turtles, ducks and fish. The Junior Naturalists also tested the PH levels on the water and how to distinguish poisonous plants from non-poisonous plants.
The majority of these youth had never been camping before and thanks to the Junior Naturalist program they went camping at Red Rock Canyon. There they learned how to build a tent and how work together to overcome a challenge. For example, at one point the youth had to use their senses in a dark area to guide each other to safety. This also proved to be a great team building exercising, with the Junior Naturalists embracing one another when they made it across.
The program ended in late November, across the street from Vista Hermosa Park, at the Belmont Art Space. On a wall outside, Junior Naturalists and community members came together to help paint a mural reflecting what the Junior Naturalists learned during their journey. The center of the mural features a split planet Earth. Half with green grass, animals and wildlife, portraying a beautiful world. The other half of the Earth is a skull, showing the impact of different kinds of pollution including over development and industrial waste. However these children have a commitment to involve themselves in projects that not only help their communities, but also beautify their planet. For example, The Junior Naturalist planted flowers in front of a portion of the mural.
Just because this session of Aprendamos is over, doesn’t mean the Junior Naturalists are done with their work. Plans are in the works to start a Junior Naturalist program in a different area, where the graduates will assist in facilitating and sharing their experiences.