March 9, 2016
At La Rodadora, the only interactive museum in Ciudad Juárez and the largest museum in the state of Chihuahua and El Paso, engaging youth is as important as the next great exhibit. Through a program supported by the Paso del Norte Health Foundation’s IGNITE Initiative, La Rodadora recruits and trains disconnected youth to be museum guides as a way to get them to participate in the cultural economy of Juarez. The museum’s RODIS JR. program trains youth on museum operations and how to assist children and families in learning activities; participating youth are encouraged, through mentoring, to pursue an education and obtain a professional degree. “We seek to generate in our young people an awareness that they can have a positive impact on the community through fun activities, which in turn can have a direct impact on their future,” said La Rodadora public relations specialist Ehudy Escobar. “We want these young people to become change agents in the community.”
La Rodadora has a history of working with college students through its RODIS program. In 2015, they submitted a proposal through PdNHF’s IGNITE Initiative to extend docent training to disconnected youth between the ages of 16 and 18.
The goal of IGNITE is to improve a range of health outcomes by engaging disconnected youth in the Paso del Norte region in high quality programs during out-of-school hours.
“We are convinced that youth are an important part of the future of our region,” Escobar said. “If we encourage them to be more participatory in these kinds of healthy activities, then we can prevent future risks to their physical and mental health.”
The program, implemented in August 2015, has been a success. So far 30 disconnected youth have completed the three-month program and another seven are finishing up. The museum has more than 300 applications for its next cohort, proving La Rodadora’s belief that if it engages young people, not only does the museum benefit, but so does the community as a whole.
“Our main goal is to help these young people stay away from potentially hazardous activities,” Escobar said. “We are also hopeful that this program will help them clarify their plans for the future, and that through education and involvement in their community they can achieve great things.”
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