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.