April 2015, Volume 19, Number 2



On the Same Page

Sometimes great ideas fully materialize in dreams.

Back in 2011, MDC Professor Yanely Cordero was looking for a way to empower students in her developmental reading classes at Homestead Campus. At the same time, she wanted to find a new way for MDC to expand its community outreach efforts to the children of migrant workers.

Then she fell asleep one evening to awaken at 3 a.m. with the perfect name to embrace these two goals – Pages for All Ages.

It has become an award-winning project in which MDC students help young kids ages 5 to 13 develop into authors by working with them in the creation of their own children’s books.

Benefits on All Fronts

“The program is great because everyone wins – our students, the community and the children,” Cordero said. “For MDC’s developmental reading students, they’re not only being given a chance at college, but also an opportunity for serving in mentoring roles, which is very empowering.”

Pages for All Ages has been such a positive influence in the community and among the MDC students that it received the 2012 MDC Service Learning Project Impact Award. During the ceremony, Homestead Campus Psychology Professor Jessyca Pérez was inspired to lend a hand.

“I loved what Professor Cordero was doing,” said Pérez, who is also the service learning faculty facilitator at Homestead Campus. “I thought this was a great opportunity to collaborate. She has the reading and writing students, and I have the psychology students. So the question was: ‘How can we bring these two groups together?’ ”

Working Out the Logistics

Cordero appreciated Pérez’s big-picture ideas for collaboration but wondered about the logistics of a potential partnership.

“I went to Cordero’s office the next morning and began making phone calls to get this going,” Pérez said. “That’s when she realized I meant business. We created a handbook, a vision statement, a website and more.”

Pérez used her connections to establish a partnership with enFAMILIA, an organization that helps improve family life for migrant farm workers and other low-income families in South Dade. The nonprofit brings in the children and provides the location for the MDC students to visit once a week, serving as mentors. For eight weeks, the mentors guide the youngsters through the process of writing and illustrating their own books.

At the end of this creative journey, each book is presented to the child who wrote it at a ceremony honoring their role as new authors of Pages for All Ages. The young writers’ families are invited to the festive event to celebrate their children’s success.

“It’s great because the children don’t feel like they are alone in this process since their mentors are there,” Pérez said. “They feel like someone is listening to them, and they look up to the college students with whom they are working.”

Cordero added that the partnership benefits the MDC students, too. “They feel more connected to the community. And instead of being just students, they become leaders and teachers.”

To see a video of the students’ work, go to tinyurl.com/PagesAges.

— WV

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