BOULDER - This year, parents played a far larger role in the planning of the Latino Parent Summit. They were brought into the decision-making process from the start of preparations for this year’s event, making the summit not only well-attended but in-tune with parents’ needs and interests.
“From the beginning we have said that this is the parents’ conference, but after three years, I finally feel like this is the first year that they really made it their own” said co-event organizer, Tere Garcia with ELPASO. “It was truly amazing how the parents took over the conversation, advocating for what they wanted to hear during the conference.”
“We met monthly with parents and partners,” explained the other co-organizer, Katie Scolari Borden, project manager at Dream Big Boulder County. “This year, the parents made all of the decisions around the dates and location, the agenda for the day, and which workshops they wanted.”
Garcia and Borden then took on the work of finding presenters to speak on the issues that the parents wanted.
“It was a learning experience for everyone,” explained Garcia. “[Our partners] were so happy to participate, but they often wanted to use the presentations they know well.”
Eventually, however, everyone agreed to make the event more parent-centered -- crafting presentations to answer their questions.
“We wanted the parents to take a little more control,” Garcia said.
As a result, workshops on immigration facts and fiction; suicide, drug and bullying prevention; and zumba were added to the event, which is held entirely in Spanish.
“Originally, the Summit was envisioned as an early childhood event, but what we heard from parents was that if they have a young child, they likely have an older child,” Borden said. “In reaching out to the community to get their input, they were asking ‘How do I talk to my older kid about drugs?’ ‘How do I talk to them about being sexually active?’ ‘How do I deal with bullying and discipline?’ Based on all that feedback, we really expanded the offerings this year.”
Additionally, leadership from both the Boulder Valley and St. Vrain Valley school districts, including board members and both superintendents, attended and spoke to participants.
“We had the two amazing superintendents from the two school districts -- St. Vrain and Boulder Valley -- coming together and listening to the students and parents and making sure the community knows they’re interested in the issues at the schools,” Garcia said.
The event continues to grow. This year there were more than 100 people, compared to 55 in the inaugural year.
“We’ve been very lucky. Things are getting bigger and more exciting,” added Garcia.
Garcia and Borden say they are most excited, however, by the growth in the parents’ leadership and confidence as they take more and more control of the event.
“[This year, because of the parents involved, the participants] felt that their voices were heard, that their opinions were valued,” Borden said. “There was a lot of positive feedback and a very strong eagerness to participate next year and get other parents involved in the event and providing their voices."