My name is Perla Covarrubias-Isaacs, and I recently joined VIBE as the Director of Youth Empowerment. This role is very personal to me as it has provided the opportunity of a lifetime to be able to enter young lives and make an impact drawing on my own experiences.
When I was approached about the opportunity, I immediately said yes because it aligned perfectly with my goals of raising awareness of critical factors that may be overlooked but are affecting the development and growth of children. I am a Latina, and I know that with my background alone, I experienced some unique hardships and worries that a child my age should not have had. I am very grateful for those who were around me noticed and made sure to provide me the tools and resources allowing me to develop into the woman that I am today. A child’s usual worries should not include the uncertainty of their future and their parent’s, their safety or lack thereof, or their innocence robbed at such an early age.
Recently, I stumbled upon a very powerful message Sesame Workshop and the International Rescue Committee are collaborating on. It consists of using Sesame Street with the topics surrounding and affecting Syrian children. The show will be called “Ahlan Simsim” (Polevoy), which stands for “Welcome Sesame.” The show will be focused on teaching children coping mechanisms regarding the topic of widespread displacement. The show was funded and is part of a 100 million dollar grant provided by the MacArthur Foundation. (Polevoy) Part of the coping mechanisms being taught are techniques including mindfulness and breathing strategies.
Irrespective of the political context inherent in a topic like this, the focus should be on the children and the impact that long-term changes in their environment can bring. The strategies and techniques being taught to them through programs like these and VIBE are so powerful. They can have a lasting influence on children as they learn to cope with their emotions and especially with many life experiences being thrust on them at such an early age.
I was so touched by this article and project because it aligns with what VIBE stands for and is developing programs for. We want to be able to identify these factors, the common and the not so transparent, in order to be able to provide children with the tools necessary to be able to learn, grow and become strong adults without losing their unique traits and values. We want to ask the right questions and provide those who can help and intervene with the research so they can lead children through these hardships. Creating awareness but also providing the solution is what we at VIBE hope to do. Just as someone did for me when I first moved to the US, I hope every child’s voice is heard and their goals and dreams supported.
Polevoy, Matthew. “How the Muppets Are Teaching Children to Cope with Emotions.” CBS News, CBS Interactive, 18 Nov. 2019, https://www.cbsnews.com/news/sesame-street-how-the-muppets-are-teaching-children-refugees-from-syria-to-cope-with-emotions-60-minutes-2019-11-17/.