At the first Monday of each month, the Core Leaders of the REACH Program area of the month, present information about why that Program is considered as vital to REACH, and, therefore, to the health of the members.  On Monday, December 7th, our topic was Art.  

Rosa Valdez, the Arts Core Lead, was joined by her team member Joaquin Newman, as well as Jasmine Quiroga, REACH Culture Keeper and Art Program Intern, and Selena Lopez-Gomez, a regular in the REACH Art studio.  Rosa began by noting that art was integral to all the planning at REACH, with youth involved in everything from the style and color of the chairs, to the outside and interior colors and decor.  Joaquin provided insights as to how the arts are a natural extension of human existence, seen in so many ways, including dance, spoken word, visual arts and performance. He then explained how the youth would now have the opportunity to reflect their ideas after studying this statement by Eleanor Roosevelt in 1958:

“Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home – so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world. Yet they are the world of the individual person; the neighbourhood he lives in; the school or college he attends; the factory, farm or office where he works. Such are the places where every man, woman and child seeks equal justice, equal opportunity, equal dignity without discrimination. Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerned citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world.” 

— Eleanor Roosevelt, “In Our Hands” (1958 speech delivered on the tenth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)

With assistance from Jasmine and Selena, Joaquin then guided the youth to complete the four panels that had initially had simple black outlines.  With only 30 minutes for the activity, the four groups went to work on their panels.  The result was the beautiful mandala shown here.


Joaquin explained that the mandala is a way to reflect a universe where, just like human rights, the elements flow from the very inner core outward.  The youth explained what they were reflecting in each of their panels.  Eleanor Roosevelt’s quote starts with “Where, after all do universal human rights begin?”  The youth have been working on dramatizing this quote, to present their ideas about it to the REACH Community on Monday, December 14th.  One of the exercises has been vocalizing with emotion the word “where.”  In describing what went into the lower right panel, Dasha Sinphinne Wright noted that the fish symbolized swimming in the “sea of where.”

Last night’s session helped demonstrate the power of the arts to grasp concepts and reflect ideas about those concepts.

We thank Rosa, and her team, including Jerarde Gutierrez, who helped plan the session, for their outstanding contribution to The World As It Could Be Is Within REACH.