Hanging Out with the Chicas

I constantly recognize and appreciate all of the hard work my parents put into giving my brothers and me the life and opportunities they didn’t have when they were growing up. Although I don’t have any kids of my own, I can relate to this parental goal. There are children out there who are eager to learn about different things, but don’t necessarily have the opportunities or resources to do that. It’s those children that inspire me to give a helping hand. It is also a perfect opportunity to share my passion for nature with the next generation.

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This week I was lucky enough to dedicate a couple of days to an incredible program called Adelante Chicas. Adelante Chicas is an innovative youth development program that empowers Latina girls to develop their leadership potential, develop cultural identity, and achieve academic success with high school graduation and college enrollment. It’s a year round program, but most of their events are planned for the summer when most of the Chicas are free. During the summer they have a 3 week camp free of charge provided to girls in the 3rd grade all the way up to the 12th grade. The week I helped with the Chicas during their Health and Wellness week. During this week the girls learned how to be healthy by spending time in nature. During the days that I helped with the chicas we potted plants, played games, explored a forest, kayaked, and cast a fishing line. It was amazing to see so many girls going out and learning about nature so early in their lives.

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There were a few activities though where the Chicas and I switched roles. It was during the casting activity that I needed a little guidance from the girls. I have never gone fishing before, so I had no clue how a fishing rod worked. The girls walked me step by step. First hold the rod with the reel facing you. Two press the button and angle the rod back past your ear. Three let go of the button as you are launching the rod forward. It was a tricky process but I was able to collect 3 fish toys!

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Liliana Calderon
lcalde4@illinois.edu
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