Kids Do It All at the CSU Todos Santos Center

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Forty-seven children from Todos Santos and four children from Colorado attended the 2016 Kids Do It All program at the Colorado State University Todos Santos Center – the university’s nonprofit international outpost for research, teaching and engagement in Baja California Sur, Mexico.

rehearsals-7For the last three years, the creative and experiential program has brought together children, families and students from the U.S. and Mexico for one week to create a community performance. The annual Kids Do It All in Todos Santos is an adaptation of a long-standing and popular music-theatre program of the CSU School of Music, Theatre and Dance.

Program impact

During the week of July 18, CSU alumni, CSU faculty and CSU graduate and undergraduate students from music, theatre, anthropology and Spanish facilitated the bilingual and bicultural experience designed for kids ages 7-12.

For the first time, CSU Piano Professor Denise Favela Apodaca traveled to Todos Santos as the faculty sponsor. The 2016 CSU Best Teacher Award winner’s role was to keep the dozen counselors together and supported.

“It’s one week during the summer, and I wish it could be longer since the children, their families and the community love it,” said Favela Apodaca.

One young camper’s grandfather told Favela Apodaca that the program was very important to the community.

“The grandfather said, ‘I wish I had the words to tell you what this camp means to our families. They look forward to it all year long. We cannot thank you enough for the gift you bring to our children,’” said Favela Apodaca.

Steady growth

Kim Kita, director of special projects and partnerships for the CSU Todos Santos Center, said the number of children participating in Kids Do It All has grown steadily each year, and the model has evolved to include students from Universidad Autonóma de Baja California Sur, a CSU partner in the region.

“Students from both countries develop new capacities around program delivery and cultural exchange, with the added benefit that the open-source nature of the program can be replicated and adapted to different communities,” said Kita, who has been at the center during all three years of the camp.

CSU is committed to a long-term relationship with the Todos Santos community, and since the local schools don’t have resources for performing arts education throughout the school year, KDIA has become greatly anticipated.

Enriching My Life through Kids Do It All

Blog by Gabriela Ocádiz, Kids Do It All leader | CSU ’15, M.M., Music Education | PhD student in Music Education, Western Ontario University

My experience with Kids Do it All in Todos Santos has always been enriching in many senses, particularly professionally and personally.

The purpose of the program, in my own words, is to give opportunities for children to express themselves – their thoughts, feelings, and personal life – through storytelling, theater, music, and art. It is a different educational proposal because we take everything that the kids come up with and help them transform it into a play; we do not intend to teach them what to do, but we facilitate the space for them to build whatever they want. All of what they know, and who they are, is welcome, accepted, and applauded. The outcome, and the process, is different every time because neither the counselors nor the students know where their ideas are going to end up. Their imagination, their daily experiences with others, has the possibility to be recreated and transformed specially through theater, and this provides an amazing learning experience for all of us.

Read more of this blog here.

“For this experience, many locals thanked us from the bottom of their hearts,” said CSU anthropology student Nigel Dawson, who returned to Todos Santos for the program in 2016. “That’s why I love going back to Todos Santos, the amazing experience and truly warm people.”

‘Close friends’

Favela Apodaca, who previously served as the Spanish community health educator for Bright Beginnings at Poudre Valley Hospital, recognized the remarkable impact of shared human experience.

“Since most could only speak either English or Spanish, the communication between teachers, students and families in the beginning was scarce, and the weather was extremely hot,” said Favela Apodaca. “Even through the communication barriers, the Mexican and American counselors and center staff all became close friends. At the end of the week, you could see the look on everyone’s faces – tears of joy, accomplishment, relief and sadness that it was all over.”

The week of practice concluded with performances written and created by the kids. The center strives to provide CSU students the opportunity to grow as global citizens, furthering their understanding and appreciation for other cultures – and Favela Apodaca witnessed that mission in action.

“Our community was united through the arts,” she said.

Kita agreed.

“The smiles and feedback from Todos Santos and Fort Collins families and children is the true sign of success,” she said. “CSU looks forward to the continued evolution of this program.”

About the CSU Todos Santos Center

The Colorado State University Todos Santos Center is the university’s first international location and is core to CSU’s mission of teaching, research, service and outreach.

The Center provides opportunities for CSU students and Baja California Sur residents to collaborate with local partners and businesses to identify needs, conduct research and produce impactful outcomes.

CSU’s vision in Todos Santos is to cultivate generations of global citizens and to be a part of creating thriving communities through collaboration, experience and exchange of knowledge in areas such as agriculture, infectious disease, elementary education, environmental and social sustainability, wildlife ecology, veterinary medicine and public health.

2016 counselors

Kids Do It All Leader: Gabriela Ocadiz, 2015, M.M. Music
Devin Anders, 2015, B.A. Theatre
Eli Cagen, 2010, B.A. Music
Nigel Dawson, 2016, M.A. Anthropology
Sarah Folsom, Music, current graduate student
Lua Frontczak, Theatre, current undergraduate student
Bryan Kettlewell, 2016, M.M. Music
Dana Kettlewell, 2015, M.M. Music
Kelsey Richards, Anthropology, current undergraduate student