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MobileClassroomFrom present-day bookmobiles to cutting-edge digital educational initiatives, there is a growing movement to bring learning opportunities to the communities who need it most. Moving beyond the traditional four-walled classroom to a mobile, self-contained “Classroom on Wheels” in a vehicle, the idea is to reach communities who typically cannot readily access educational resources and specialized programming. CamionArte (“Art Bus”) is part of this incredible educational movement, designed to meet the needs of marginalized communities and at-risk youth in Mexico, through its arts and educational workshops and library.

Born in Guanajuato over two years ago, CamionArte is the result of a fantastic collaboration between Do Good As You Go and local nonprofit, Colectivo TAN 473. The project was developed and created by Katie Clancy, co-founder of Colectivo TAN 473. “Originally we were just trying to deal with the challenges inherent to our work. The kids we work with live in communities that are not terribly far from the city’s center, however, they remain very isolated and have little connection to the benefits the city can offer it’s youth. The CamionArte was and is effort to physically connect the children and families of these communities to great learning experiences through workshops, community based projects and events….all in their own backyard so to speak.”

CamionArte presently conducts workshops with around 70 children per week, focusing on providing consisting programming to three groups of kids. One group is in a boys’ home in Irapuato, the second is a girls home and the third is a community of squatters on the outskirts of Guanajuato Capital. All groups share the common challenges of extreme poverty and the absence of after-school enrichment programs. These are bright, amazing kids with eager minds, who often lag 1, 2 or even 3 levels behind in their education due to the effects of poverty and lack of educational resources.

CamionArte is committed to developing programming designed to answer the questions: What can be done to remove the roadblocks for these ambitious kids? How can we provide effective programming to compensate for what they may be lacking, so they don’t fall behind in school and life? How can we transform how they learn and how they feel and think about themselves and their future?

The library component of CamionArte serves as an incredible tool to help address these questions while bringing these kids access to world-class education. Currently, print books are used during the reading workshops, with a lending library that allows kids to bring home books to share with friends and families and to instill a love of reading.

The program seeks to expand its library with a digital twist!  By using Kindles, CamionArte hopes to accommodate larger class sizes, efficiently stock books in both Spanish and English while saving on space and shipping costs of books. Another fantastic advantage of using Kindles is the ability to download educational apps, such as Khan Academy. With over 2400 educational videos, in every subject from art to physics, this interactive programming can be integrated into the weekly curriculum, while providing another tool for the kids to actively engage in their learning.

The library also plans to incorporate the new reading list from Mind in the Making.  What was once a book is now a major educational movement, based on research that examines the direct correlation between executive function skills and success in school and life.  Mind in the Making has identified “7 Essential Life Skills” that all kids need to develop: focus and self-control, perspective taking, communicating, making connections, critical thinking, taking on challenges and self-direct, engaged learning. By creating programming targeting the development of these life skills, which have been proven to be compromised by the influences of living in poverty, CamionArte will provide the exact type of programming the kids in Guanajuato need to thrive.

The past two years have been a labor of love to get the CamionArte program up and running and out to the community. “Without CamionArte we would simply not be able to engage with over half of the community that is benefitting from these workshops. The beauty of the CamionArte is not just what comes inside of it, but what it generates! It has become a magnet for families to come closer out of curiosity, it has become a way to “pop up” with all kinds of fun, educational activities in our communities as well as in new spaces. We are able to be a consistent, reliable (and yet a bit wild and fun) presence in the lives the children of TAN. The surest sign for us that we are having an impact is when we hear that the kids are waiting eagerly for the day or days of the week that the CamionArte shows up and even better that the moms want to stay and work & play with us. It is incredibly rewarding to see kids hungrily grabbing book after book and excitedly awaiting to be told a story…they need and deserve access to time with good books.”  With the use of creative programming and technology, geared towards the struggles of the communities it serves in Guanajuato, CamionArte will continue to make an impact, one community at a time.

Would you like to get involved with CamionArte? Discover more here.

FROM THE EDITOR
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