Parent voice and leadership are central to ELM’s work, and we often refer to the Parent Accountability Council (PAC) as the ‘heart’ of our work to build an early learning system that is free from bias and gives every child what they need to learn and grow. Like the heart, the PAC gives ELM the necessary nutrients (our guiding principles) and oxygen (parent voice) to power our body of work. In 2014, the Parent Accountability Council was co-created with key partners to help to guide ELM’s work and investments in Multnomah County
This July 2022, we held our 8th Annual PAC Celebration at Columbia Park in N. Portland.
We invited parent leaders and their families, staff from our partner organizations, and United Way staff, and Hands on Greater Portland volunteers to come together to celebrate – our accomplishments, share our cultural foods and traditions, and to enjoy each other’s company. We haven’t been able to hold our celebration in person since 2019, so this was an opportunity to reconnect. To show our gratitude to parents and partner organizations for their commitment to working with ELM for systems change. To celebrate parents working together to pass Preschool For All in the 2020 election which resulted in 621 new slots for preschool in Multnomah County this Fall!
The celebration was fun-filled! We had arts & crafts tables for kids and adults to be creative together. There was face painting, field games, balloon twisting, a bubble-making station, snow cone machine, and a photo backdrop.
Each year, we invite cultural performances from our communities to share their customs and traditions with us. This year, we had Mariachi Chapala created by the Aguirre family, Francisco, the father, and his two daughters, Aranza and Miranda, performed traditional mariachi songs to share with the group. White Lotus, a dance team composed of teens and young adults from the Asian American community, performed the Lion Dance with great acrobatic skills and blessed the audience with wishes of luck and peace. Finally, we had 3 youth violinists under the age of 12, Dania, Dannette, and Zoe, from the Metropolitan Youth Symphony who made their public performance debut at the PAC celebration! We are all very honored to witness such talents and beautiful cultural expressions.
Finally, the favorite part of any ELM & PAC gathering – is the FOOD! We were able to enjoy a diverse spread of cultural foods representing Native American, Somali, Latino, African American, Asian American, and Slavic communities. Not only are these dishes delicious and nourishing, but the food also brings people together, and sharing cultural foods creates and strengthens the bonds that nurture and ties our communities together. When we eat and share our most beloved tastes and recipes, we are creating unity and belonging. In its essence, this is what PAC is – a celebration of the value of cultural expression through people and experiences to make our community better together.
We look forward to our next celebration in July 2023! What an amazing day getting to enjoy space and motivation with leaders I learn from every day.