Damaris Hernandez is a member of our Parks and Open Space Committee and her growth as a leader is just one of our stories of success. Damaris was born in Guadalajara, Mexico and has 7 children and 1 grandchild. She loves them all! She is a success story because she persevered in raising all her children and becoming a community leader to be an example to her family.
She has been participating with Best Start ELA from the beginning – nearly 4 years ago. She was involved in the community survey project which resulted in the publication of the East Los Angeles Environment Research Brief. This is the document which utilized the concept of “participatory research” and helped many East LA community members learn more about environmental factors affecting the healthy development of children and their family.
Damaris continued participating with First5 Best Start ELA and recently graduated from the leadership academy that was facilitated by First 5, Promesa Boyle Heights, Inner City Struggle and Proyecto Pastoral. She is now a peer educator in the group known as “Madres Educadoras” (Mothers that Educate), which is a group that focuses on guiding parents with children from 0-5 toward resources which would assist in the reduction of stress. As a Madre Educadora, Damaris will also be giving presentations about child growth, stress and the development of the brain of children from 0-5. As part of her initial presentation, she discussed the importance of “leadership” at the I Heart East LA community meeting and also led the “spaghetti tower” activity.
She recently also traveled to San Francisco to a parent training, where she states it was an amazing experience to travel with other parents to learn more.
She also just became a certified instructor for the program Abriendo Puertas (Opening Doors) – culturally-relevant program aimed at training Latino parents from 0-5 years old.
Damaris also recently, on September 27 presented a report back to over 60 residents and community organizations of East LA on the work that has taken place with the Parks and Open Space Committee. When asked how she felt, she stated:
“I felt great that I was able to overcome my nervousness and stand up there in front of so many people and share the information about the work we are doing to improve East LA parks.”