Building Blocks for Kids Collaborative is bringing together strong groups of African American and Latina women to discuss strategies for building sanctuary space within our community. The sanctuary approach is built upon the premise that community leaders can be only as effective within the broader community as the support and resources they have access to themselves, promoting a culture of healing and wellness. The goal is to begin to shift the culture of stigma that surrounds mental health and trauma, and instead to focus on building resilience and power.
In November, January, and February, African American women came together to begin this work, with a total of twenty participants. In February, March, and April, Grupo Corazón y Alma (Latina Sanctuary) met at the Building Blocks for Kids Collaborative with a total of nine participating women. When surveyed at one session about the impact of the experience on their lives, 100% of participants agreed that the “group time helps to heal my spirit.” Further, in that session, all participants made linkages between individual healing and improved community wellbeing by agreeing that “my own healing helps my community get stronger.”
In April, Brighter Beginnings hosted the monthly Family Enrichment Night. The theme for the event was “Richmond Blossoms” and families participated in a fun letter hunt and decorated and planted their own succulents. Participants also had the opportunity to interact while enjoying homemade enchiladas. Seventeen people participated in the Family Enrichment Night this month.
The Building Blocks for Kids Collaborative Backbone staff team visited the Rosie the Riveter National Historical Park on April 1st, 2014. The trip gave us the educational opportunity to learn about Richmond history and the hard work and dedication of women during times of war. We are excited to have this resource in our community!
Building Blocks for Kids Collaborative supported member organization Youth Enrichment Strategies’ (YES) annual event, “Walk to Nature” on March 29th, 2014. This is a great opportunity each year for us to build community, practice health and wellness, and discover nature. The free event involved a unified 3 mile walk from the Richmond Civic Center to Miller Knox Regional Shoreline. The event included free water bottles, lunch, Zumba, games, raffle, and activities for all ages. BBK provided support with volunteer training, registration, and event coordination.
On March 14, 2014, Build Blocks for Kids Collaborative attended the weekly coffee club meeting at Peres Elementary School. Coffee Clubs provide an opportunity to increase collaboration and strengthen relationships between parents, school representatives, and community partners. Parents used this time to engage in conversation about their children’s education with the principal, Mr. Eldridge. Additionally, Andres Irbarra from LifeLong gave an informational presentation on Covered California.
In March, BBK, Healthy Richmond, CCISCO, East Bay Center for the Performing Arts, and Richmond and Kennedy High parents and students came together to prepare for the District Local Control Accountability Plan Parent Committee. The group generated and discussed many creative ideas to improve the school district and effectively utilize LCFF resources. They wanted to ensure that they were ready to participate in this newly created LCAP parent committee since for for many of them, this was their first time serving on a committee.
Family Enrichment Night in March provided the opportunity to celebrate National Reading Month and the birth day of Dr. Seuss. Families demonstrated their enthusiasm for reading by engaging in group story time. They also used colorful arts and crafts products to create personalized reading logs. West County Reads, the host for the event, also provided gently used, age appropriate books for each family to take home and continue reading together. There were twelve participants this month.
In February, Building Blocks for Kids staff members went to Ms. Selman’s 2nd grade classroom at Lincoln Elementary to meet with Iron Triangle students. Some of the children were already familiar with Building Blocks for Kids Collaborative. When asked if they knew anything about BBK, students responded, “I go there for karate.” and “You’re near FoodsCo by Kaiser.”
Through interactive pictures and maps, students learned more about the work of the Collaborative and discussed important community assets. Students were attentive and very interested in discussing work in their community.
Building Blocks for Kids Collaborative, the Richmond Police Department, and Richmond’s Crime Prevention Program recently collaborated to organize neighborhood and school safety discussions with Iron Triangle residents and parents. Sessions were held February 4th and 11th at Chavez Elementary School and February 25th and March 4th at Peres Elementary School. The sessions aimed to build community, strengthen partnerships with police, discuss safe streets and schools, and address crime prevention.
“Unity in the Community” session topics included gangs, police working in schools, and neighborhood crime watch. Parents attending the sessions actively engaged to inquire about neighborhood safety and discussed the need for community and police support to ensure children in the community are safe. Each participant received a diploma of completion.
A total of 86 community members participated in the “Unity in the Community” series and of those participants, 25 people engaged in multiple sessions. At the first sessions at both Chavez and Peres Elementary schools, 100% of participants answered affirmatively to the statement “I am glad I came here tonight. My time was well spent.” One participant at Peres commented, “Everything that we talked about in the meeting helped me, and I now see that we should all work together.” A community resident at the Chavez Elementary session stated, “I’d like to get involved more in my community and also with the Richmond Police Department.”
Promoting Digital Literacy: Building Blocks for Kids Collaborative Brings Free Wifi Access to the Iron Triangle
February 25, 2014 was a busy and exciting day for Building Blocks for Kids Collaborative, as free broadband wireless internet access became a reality in one Iron Triangle neighborhood! The Collaborative recently unveiled local plans to provide such services to residents in an effort to bridge the digital literacy divide described in our recent report.
Community leaders and residents gathered at the home of Yolanda Lopez for the Wifi Connection Demonstration. With collaborative contributions from community residents, ReliaTech, the City of Richmond, BBK, and Internet Archives, an antenna was installed at the home. This makes it possible for Ms. Lopez’s family and neighbors to access wireless internet services at no cost to them. It was a huge success and neighbors had the opportunity to interact and talk about their experiences with the network.
Earlier in the day, Building Blocks for Kids Collaborative staff members attended the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors meeting in Martinez where we presented the findings of the report about the digital divide in lower income communities. The day concluded with a presentation about the Wifi Connection Demonstration by Ms. Lopez at the Richmond City Council meeting.
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