As a connector of families, educators, and cultural organizations, Cool Culture creates spaces to work together in support of family wellbeing and the communities impacted by systemic inequities. Our first virtual Culture Chat brought together Cool Culture’s Executive Director, Candice Anderson, and two longtime partners: Maggie Nunez, Founder & CEO of Sunny Skies Preschool and Ran Yan, Executive Director of Lewis Latimer House Museum, to explore how we can be “accomplices in culture” with families for the wellbeing of our communities. As each of them discussed the impacts of the ongoing global pandemic and racialized violence on children and families, they shared how art, a focus on social justice, and mental health in education provides space for community building, healing, and solidarity.
In our conversation, Maggie noted that Cool Culture’s Family Pass program provides a unique way to encourage children’s agency and families’ care of their mental health:
“When children thrive and play and meet with their friends outside the confines of the schools, that’s taking care of their mental health. When they can get up on a Saturday and have 90 choices of where to go [from Cool Culture’s Family Pass] it empowers them to take ownership of their community, of their daily life, of their activities. Children have gained a voice and it’s only for the positive.”
On juggling the reopening of spaces during a pandemic and meeting families’ needs beyond traditional arts programming, Ran reflected on the use of their particular location and outdoor space to address wellbeing and community care:
“Ever since the onset of the pandemic, there have been a series of almost non-stop tensions and racial traumas, [such as] the violence against the AAPI community and the killing of George Floyd. As a Black heritage site, the Lewis Latimer House is uniquely positioned in this Asian community to bring different cultures together and to be a place of healing and community building. So we really appreciate it when Cool Culture’s staff proactively reached out to us to discuss the collaborations for the wellness festival and with the intention to foster Black-Asian solidarity and to utilize our green space for community building. And they also give our team confidence in doing what we’ve been thinking about, so it’s a wonderful collaboration. It’s really important to have a space like ours to do this type of community building, to bring our local residents together and to bring different communities and cultures together.”
We invite you to continue this conversation with us in your communities and on Cool Culture’s LinkedIn and Facebook pages: How can we respond to calls for equity and change through art and culture as we address collective trauma, individual, and citywide needs?
Revisit the event recording here.