The Long Island Latino Teachers Association (LILTA) has launched a multi-faceted project — Life through My Eyes — to empower Latino and non-Latino youth in the Patchogue community to share their cultures and foster understanding.
The project, made possible by a $65,000 grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation's Racial Healing Initiative, was created in response to the tragic death of Marcelo Lucero, an Ecuadorian who was a victim of a hate crime committed by a group of teens in Patchogue three years ago.
The program, which is entering its second year, includes workshops on conflict resolution, critical thinking, human rights education and peace education; and cultural events. Students are encouraged to produce short films depicting life through their eyes. The films will then be incorporated into lesson plans.
LILTA last summer hosted a two-week program for youth aged 12 to 18 that included a soccer tournament, cultural trips to the Statue of Liberty and Nassau County Museum of Art, and community service. The youth also participated in a three-day film workshop. Parents and their children also attended monthly meetings to build camaraderie and leadership skills.
"The project could not have been successful without the dedication and collaboration of our teachers and volunteers," said LILTA member Regina Casale. "We also commend the parents and students who were committed to the project. And lastly, a special thanks to Joselo Lucero, Marcelo's brother, whose support and personal sacrifice has allowed us this opportunity."