New Parent Leaders Are Ready to Advocate for Healthy Schools

August 19, 2015

The chant of “Si se puede (Yes, we can)” closed out the three-day 2015 Parents United Parent Leadership Institute as nearly 60 parents posed for a group photo. These parents will now bring back to their school community what they learned and work together with other parents, school officials and the community to make schools healthier places for students to learn.

Every year, this institute is an inspiring and energizing experience hosted by Parents United for Healthy Schools, HSC’s parent-led coalition leading the way for healthy changes at CPS schools. Parents learned about school food, fitness, wellness policies, championing healthy practices, working with their local school councils and becoming even stronger advocates for school health through basic community organizing.

But this is not a top-down training; successful parent leaders are front and center. On the third day, veteran parent leaders shared their lesson learned through a panel discussion. Enriqueta Raygoza talked about organizing a successful walkathon at Greene Elementary and her challenges working with principals at her children’s schools. Parents learned the basics of community organizing through hands-on sessions and role playing exercises.

Prominent community leaders like Carmen Velasquez, a civil rights leader and founder of Alivio Medical Center, and Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, the Cook County Board Commissioner, joined parents to congratulate and applaud their efforts and to reinforce that parents and schools working together is key to creating healthy, thriving communities.

The institute continued building the foundation for future advocacy. It equipped new parent leaders with the knowledge and skills to join their peers in giving all students the chance to be healthy and ready to learn. And it put parents and community leaders in the same room, sharing their vision and goals for the future. Congratulations to the Parent Leadership Institute Class of 2015! Learn more about Parents United on our website.