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A reason to be proud of 2016
Photo courtesy: Art Distric on Santa Fe Faecbook

By Joshua Pilkington

La Vida Latina reviews 2016 through a communal lens

It has been a year that for many will live in infamy. From the untimely passing of many of the world’s greatest athletes and artists to the headline-grabbing Presidential Election, 2016 has been a black eye for many around the world.

Nevertheless, La Vida Latina was able to cover many positives this year. It wasn’t news that garnered headlines – fake or otherwise but we did meet with several significant people doing significant things for their communities.

Scholarships and Community Events

We began the year covering one of many scholarship opportunities we examined during the year, this one providing the opportunity to aspiring journalists. As 2016 showed us through the Presidential Election, sourced, fact-checked and unbiased journalism is at a premium, making the Colorado Press Association’s Scholarship Program a necessity for aspiring journalists.

“Journalism is still the foundation of our society,” Jerry Raehal, CEO of the Colorado Press Association and SYNC2 Media told us. “The industry has changed, but as long as we are still trying to build community, hold government accountable and report on the good, the bad and the ugly, we will have a purpose.”

February allowed us the opportunity to examine the Hispanic Annual Salute, which honored 10 Colorado high school seniors who displayed academic prowess and showcased excellent volunteerism.

“One thing that makes our students special is their service to their communities,” said HAS President Dan Sandos. “If a high school senior is devoting dozens of hours, sometimes hundreds of hours, to community service, they are already leaders. They will be leaders in college and they will be future leaders in their careers.”

In March we headed to a different powerhouse event, the Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame Induction where three Latinas were honored among the 10 inductees. Anna Jo Garcia Haynes, Arlene Vigil Kramer and Lydia M. Peña, SL, PhD led breakthrough programs for women and education in Colorado, including platforms for bilingual education, preschool education and art appreciation.

The Arts and Education

We spent a lot of time at the Art District on Santa Fe where Museo de las Americas, Su Teatro and the Chicano Humanities and Arts Council (CHAC) reside.

This year CHAC held a special ceremony at its 15th annual Santos y Cruces Exhibit to honor one of Colorado’s most famed santeros and founding member of CHAC, Carlos Santistevan.

“I felt like this was an excellent opportunity to recognize him for all he’s done for CHAC and the Denver community,” said CHAC Education Coordinator Sean Trujillo.

Speaking of art, La Vida Latina also had the opportunity to speak with a unique artist who turned his hobby of miniature models into an art form that landed him a spot at the Cherry Creek Arts Festival as an emerging artist.

“I came up with this idea of building this little Christmas scene under glass and I was able to make it glow with some LED and some battery packs,” said artist Scott Hildebrandt of his original piece of art, which continues to be a bestseller during the holidays.

In the realm of education, we took a closer look at Denver Kids, Inc., which has supported students in kindergarten through 12th grade to graduate from high school, pursue post-secondary education and become contributing members of their communities.

Activism and Hispanic Heritage

The airing of the documentary “No Más Bebés”, which examined how 10 immigrant Mexican women unknowingly underwent tube ligation after giving birth in Los Angeles County in 1975, also sparked debate in Colorado regarding reproductive rights.

“In Colorado, the number of young people facing unintended pregnancy and giving birth plummeted by 40 percent between 2009 and 2013 after the state offered free intrauterine devices and implants to prevent pregnancy,” said COLOR Executive Director Cristina Aguilar. “Given that its benefits were most visible among young and low-income women, we can see how policy – or lack of policy – hampers the reproductive freedom of young women, low-income women and women of color.”

We were also able to document the accomplishments of many Colorado families through our Hispanic Heritage series including Michelle Lucero, Erinea Garcia Gallegos (deceased), Joann Cortez and her son Marco Campos who has enjoyed decorated success in his young career.

We took a long look at one of Colorado’s original families, the Abeytas and Antonito mayor Aaron Abeyta. We also had the opportunity to view “A Product of the Chicano Movement”, which examined the life and communal efforts of Dr. Virgilio Licona.

Though every year will bring negative headlines, at La Vida Latina, we will continue to focus on those who see the world through their community.





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