The Partner Spotlight blog series highlights an organization that has been instrumental in the research, development, and content creation of Along. Today, we are introducing a new partner—UnidosUS—who have collaborated with us on new reflection questions focused on rest and joy. Along spoke to Dr. Ingrid Colón, Director of Program, about UnidosUs’s mission to ensure that all students in our country have a real opportunity to learn, grow, and thrive.
Tell us about your work with UnidosUS.
My own experiences as an immigrant student, multilingual learner, educator, teacher educator, researcher, and education advocate in the United States have motivated me to focus on amore humane way of doing schooling that is different from what I experienced. So, I was gratified to have the opportunity to join UnidosUS in 2020 to lead a project that focuses on holistic approaches to learning. With the support of the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, we created a Framework called Educación Completa. It includes a toolkit for the education community, co-designed and co-created with youth, families, educators, and community members, for pre-K through grade 12. The Framework serves at the intersection of education and health, and goes beyond academics to really meet all of our students’ needs so that they can thrive.
My favorite aspect of this Framework is the way we were able to elevate the brilliance and expertise of children and youth. Typically in education, we have an adult-centered way of seeing things. We wanted to learn from children and youth.They guided us through the process by telling us what they want for the future and how they define a complete education for themselves. In particular, one young person reminded us that education isn’t just about a distant future, it’s about how young people are living today.The Framework is not prescriptive: it is a roadmap for communities to adapt to their own context. I didn’t have this kind of holistic experience as a student in U.S. schools, and for me, advocating for these practices is part of my healing process.
One of the things I enjoy about working with UnidosUS is our huge Affiliate Network of nearly 300 community-based organizations across the United States and Puerto Rico. It’s an honor to be in community with these organizations.
Why did UnidosUS partner with Along?
Along’s mission is so well-aligned to our work. It also resonates with my own experience–I know the power of building relationships with students, and the challenges to nurturing and cultivating meaningful 1:1 connections. I have been there, done that!
One of my favorite parts of Along is that it was developed with educators. And, there’s intentionality in getting feedback from students about what questions will and won’t work. Students are limitless, imaginative, dreaming, pushing beyond boundaries, and Along includes their perspective.Students and teachers are the ones who should be guiding this work!
Is there any other message you’d like to share with educators?
The collections I created for Along center on joy, rest, and our overall well-being. One of the things I would say is: make time for yourself! I know how hard it is–there are systemic and structural factors that make it so, so hard to care for ourselves. But I want to remind us to prioritize joy, rest, feeling, and being human. Holistic wellbeing is for everyone. The more we talk about it, the more we manifest it, the more we can be intentional to make it happen.
As you explore the new reflection questions from UnidosUS, we hope that you’re able to connect with your students around the importance of prioritizing wellbeing. Log in to Along to view these new reflection questions.