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El Centro builds a C.A.S.A.

By Antonio Barrios, La Prensa

El Centro recently showed off its new mobile mural during the 48th Annual Lorain International Parade on June 29, 2014, in front of the grand stand at Lorain City Hall.

The parade started about 11:30 a.m. from 17th street and continued north along Broadway. Leading the parade was the spotlighted nationality “The Polish Community,” followed closely behind by the spotlighted industry: “El Centro.” Every year the International Committee selects an ethnic community and business to spotlight during the week-long festivities in Lorain.

El Centro’s new entry to the International parade was the culmination of a unique pilot program created by NCLR (National Council of La Raza), the largest and nationally acclaimed Latino organization in United States.

The program normally used in l ocal public school systems was a new endeavor for El Centro, one of the few organizations chosen nationwide to try out the program outside of the school systems.

In an exclusive interview with La Prensa, Executive Director Victor Leandry stated: “El Centro’s Youth group, C.A.S.A, which stands for Cultura, Aprendizaje, Servicio, y Acción (Culture Learning Services in Action) unveiled the  mural at 10:00am Wednesday June 25 as part of an open house at  El Centro’s building at 2800 Pearl Avenue.” 

The main goal of CASA is to empower young Latinos ages 12 -14 through service learning projects and to gain knowledge on cultural aspects of their backgrounds and the world around them.  Guests were also able to network and socialize in our second floor hall and enjoy light refreshments.

Director Leandry went on to say: “The program started about one year ago with a proposal to NCLR to bring the program to Lorain’s El Centro in order to experiment with non-profits running the program.”

When asked exactly what the program entailed Director Leandry explained:  “The program was about encouraging Hispanic youth to learn about themselves through Leadership, Education, and the History of their roots while also learning to have an active role in the community.

Some activities included: identifying common issues among Latinos and then working to find solutions. The youth also worked on the Christmas giving tree, where 100 children received toys.

The youth group also worked on education of the immigration issue and how this impacted the lives of children. The group was able to interview Lorain City Chief of Police Cel Rivera.

There were also physical events such as the 5K run to support local non-profits and walked in the Cinco de Mayo Parade wearing the famous Vejigante costume of Puerto Rico.

In the Leadership aspect, “the youth learn to identify issues but they learn to plan what needs to be done then execute their plans and present them to the public.”  

Presently, the C.A.S.A. youth group is organizing a Steak Fry to raise funds to take a trip to Chicago for a Youth meeting. So they are learning to organize and delegate.”

“On the horizon for C.A.S.A, with the continued funding by NCLR they will be to keep program going to follow the youth through middle school up to college and graduation.” But it doesn’t end there; the hope is that this youth group will go into the community to help make a better way of life for all.

Director Leandry said they wanted to create a mural as a testimonial and evidence of the commitment of the hard work that the youth C.A.S.A group has done so we called in the Lorain Arts Council as they have done other murals, especially with youth groups.

The youth worked on the mural from concept to finished product. They brought in images of culture, education, service, and actions. The Project manager brought in one of the artist from the Lorain Arts CouncilAlexander Rivera—and closely worked the youth and artist to make the mural.”

Mr. Leandry wanted something that El Centro could take with them on trips to other C.A.S.A. groups around the nation; thus, the concept of a mobile mural was born.

El Centro is becoming  more than a social advocacy agency; El Centro is leading the way as Latino empowerment is on the rise and youth are stepping up to take their place in society, not only as active members but as Leaders of the Future.


Copyright © 1989 to 2014 by [LaPrensa Publications Inc.]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 07/18/14 17:50:34 -0700.




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