Journeys, obstacles on DePue’s mind

Caption
(BCR photo/Goldie Currie)
DePue physical education and health teacher Martha Pedziwiatr paints a cartoon character on DePue student Stephanie Rocha's face in the activities room during the DePue Schools' Community Empowerment event.
Caption
(BCR photo/Goldie Currie)
Community members Graciela Rios (from left), Patty Garcia and Jose Garcia participate in a group discussion about success and overcoming barriers during DePue Schools’ third annual Community Empowerment event, which focused more on the stories of community members who grew up and are currently living in DePue.

DEPUE — DePue School District held its third annual Community Empowerment event on Wednesday evening.

Despite the dreary weather, a handful of community members and students gathered in the gymnasium to hear and discuss topics related to success and overcoming barriers.

The school invited Ricardo Montoya of the Illinois Coalition of Community Service to share questions and co-emcee the event. Montoya has helped rally parents in DePue to start community projects such as the summer youth basketball camp and a youth soccer league.

On Wednesday, attendees broke into small groups. Each group was asked to select a leader, and the group leader was given a set of questions students had generated before the event to help spark discussion. Some of the questions asked during the night included: What is success in your eyes? What advice would you give for overcoming barriers? At what point do you decide you are successful and stop trying? How do you overcome the fear of messing things up or making a wrong decision?

While previous Community Empowerment events were steered to reinforce the importance of higher education, DePue Schools’ Community Coordinator Anna McKee explained she wanted this year’s event to focus more on community members who are currently living in DePue.

“Focus on their journey, obstacles they have encountered and how they have overcome those obstacles,” she said. “We tend to appreciate the journey each person has taken to where they are today. We identify barriers and discuss as a community possible solutions to those obstacles each of us face.”

The goal of the event was to generate discussion displaying the value of different experiences life has to offer.

“I always enjoy the discussion and listening to each other’s perspective,” McKee said. “It empowers each of us to contribute to the lives of the youth in DePue and the community as a whole.”

McKee said involving parents and community members in school events opens communication and creates a strong sense of unity.

“There is great value in parents and community members reinforcing the positive behaviors and habits students are learning in school,” she said.

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