A new PEACE in Punta de Mita and Higuera Blanca
PPM began operations on April 1, 2013, and is geographically focused only in the Punta de Mita area, which includes the two Punta de Mita villages (Corral del Risco and Emiliano Zapata) and Higuera Blanca. Its headquarters are in the community center located in Emiliano Zapata. The center is loaned to Peace by the ejido village authorities. This is also where most of the programs are housed.
Programs are concentrated in two categories: Education and Community Pride.
The PPM board of directors is comprised entirely of Punta Mita-area homeowners, all of whom have considerable business and board experience: Mary Corroon (Hacienda de Mita), Bob Farquharson (Lagos del Mar), Stan Grad (La Punta and Hacienda de Mita), PPM Chair Peter Newton (Ranchos Estates), and Rob Ritchie (Hacienda de Mita).
PPM donors are truly committed, socially-responsible, and successful local and international business leaders.
With full participation and ownership of the entire Mita community, Peace Punta de Mita has as its mission to facilitate development based on self-reliance and self-sufficiency through effective implementation, promotion and support of education, health and community pride programs in the Punta de Mita area.
Peace Punta de Mita believes that education is the key to life-long opportunities and success for everyone, which is why PPM created the program Avanza. Avanza means “to advance” or “to move forward” in Spanish. Its mission is to prepare children from the Punta de Mita area to have successful lives. Peace does this by providing a supportive learning environment that focuses on improving academic and social behaviors, while providing meaningful life skills to the students. In Avanza students learn basic values: respect, kindness, responsibility, friendliness and many more. They also learn basic principles that are important when in school or at work, which include punctuality, commitment to task and twenty-first century skills, such as communication, collaboration and critical thinking. The goal of the program is to reintegrate the Avanza students into the Public School System and support them in their journey of becoming responsible, stable and contributing members of society. Avanza is currently comprised of 20 students from the Punta de Mita area, ranging in ages from eight to seventeen years old. Last year, five students continued on to high school, one with a complete scholarship, and one student was reintegrated into the elementary school system. This year Avanza will have five students graduating and beginning high school, one with a scholarship to a private high school in Bucerias. They will also have three students that will begin attending middle school, and two students who will be integrated into the elementary school. Avanza has had great success in the past and more to come in the future.
The economy in the area of Punta de Mita is entirely based on tourism, yet the students in the public schools in the area were receiving little to no English. When Peace became aware of the great disparity between the students graduating from the public schools and the jobs being filled in the area they jumped to action. In January 2014 Peace began their English Program in the public schools. They started with the three local elementary schools, in Emiliano Zapata, Corral del Risco and Higuera Blanca. Less than a year later Peace’s English Program grew tremendously and is currently located in all of the local schools; including three kindergartens, three elementary schools, two middle schools and two high schools. The English Program is currently in the process of growing even more, by the end of April 2015, after an agreement is signed with SEP (The Mexican Ministry of Education), Peace will be teaching five hours of English a week, instead of two hours, to every age group in the three towns. Peace currently employs nine English teachers. All of who have gone through Teacher Training Workshops with Professor Rob Haines, who has focused on English as a Foreign Language (EFL) and Project Based Learning (PBL) to help the teachers grow and become more affective within the classrooms. Altogether 1,011 students in nine schools are benefitting from Peace’s English Program.
Campeones, “Champions,” is an after-school program created for advanced students in the middle school to help better prepare them to enter private high schools in the area. Seventeen students from the three local communities were handpicked to be part of the first year of Campeones; their professors and the Peace teachers who interviewed each candidate individually selected them. Each student was nominated based on his or her motivation to learn and grow as a person, their interest in pursuing academics, as well as their all around demeanor; each student also has an A (9.0+) grade point average. The purpose of Campeones is to supply each student with the academic abilities to improve their lives and educational advancement, while simultaneously giving back to the community. The program’s goals are to advance each students English level to fluency, to give them proper instruction of how to use a computer, especially Google Chrome Books, and to provide them with tools of knowledge and twenty-first century skills, such as communication, collaboration and critical thinking through community oriented project-based learning. Students work at the Peace Punta de Mita Community Center from Monday to Friday from 4 to 5:30 p.m.
The ability to use a computer is a great necessity in this day and age; Peace Punta de Mita saw the need for classes that provide students and adults with computer skills and decided to begin their own classes at the Peace Community Center. Classes are provided to students from Avanza and the local high school, Peace also offers open classes to adults twice a week. The classes are geared towards providing students and adults with the necessary skills to be able to use a computer, so that they may use computers for their personal benefit or further their careers. The computer lab has fourteen computers that are free to use to anyone during the afternoon. The computer teacher is always there and willing to help anyone who needs assistance. Peace is teaching a total of 73 students per week and provides free usage of the computers to all the Community.
PUBLIC SCHOOL SUPPORT:
Peace Punta de Mita not only provides educational support to the local schools, but they also supply structural and financial backing to keep the schools in proper running conditions. In the past years Peace has put new floors in the six classrooms of Higuera Blanca’s middle school, they provide paint for the elementary school in Emiliano Zapata. They helped enable five schools in the area to receive computers through Fundación UNETE, and made sure that their teachers were trained to use them as tools of knowledge in the classroom. Peace also built a kitchen that benefits the kindergarten and elementary schools in Corral del Risco to make sure that all students were receiving a healthy meal. Peace is dedicated to making sure that all the schools in the area are able to have class in a suitable classroom that is ready for learning.
Community Pride is a program that seeks to enrich the lives of youths and adults in the Punta de Mita area through cohesive programs focused on self-reliance, self-discovery and committed community ownership to ensure continued success in the program and the three communities.
Descúbrete, “discover yourself,” is a personal growth-counseling program that originally began with local women. The ladies of the villages share their personal experience and growth together by looking at their skills and attributes. This powerful program has been successfully implemented around the world and teaches women, men and youth to improve their own lives while improving the lives of their families. After seeing the success of the women’s workshop the program has grown to accommodate youth as well. Students ages thirteen to nineteen years old attend a monthly conference, a day and a half, which is held by facilitators from Guadalajara. The youth program, which began in November 2014, benefits 70 students from the three communities; the program is still being held monthly. Both programs have been so successful that this year there will be another program held for women. If you would like to view the success that these women had please visit the video listed below.
Miles Merritt and Gail Kempler, video extraordinaires, have hit a homerun again in describing a Puerto Vallarta-area program. Click on the red text link below.
Action for Food supports poor and unemployed adults from the Mita area by providing them with a healthy food basket in exchange for two hours of community service. This program, approved by the village authorities, has shown to create a positive outcome by enhancing the self-esteem of those who have not been able to provide significant financial support for their families.
|Ceci Paredes, Executive Director|