Mi­grants find sup­port in Mana­tee’s school dis­trict

The Bradenton Herald (Sunday) - - Local - BY GIUSEPPE SABELLA

The life of a mi­grant is ever-chang­ing, but one thing re­mains con­stant: the sup­port each stu­dent re­ceives in the School Dis­trict of Mana­tee County.

In the lo­cal con­text, mi­grants are peo­ple who move through­out Florida and the United States, usu­ally for sea­sonal work. The fam­i­lies may har­vest or­anges in Florida, ap­ples in Michi­gan and sweet pota­toes in North Carolina.

Stu­dents could move sev­eral times each year, land­ing in a new school dis­trict with un­fa­mil­iar faces and ex­pec­ta­tions, said Harold Me­d­ina, mi­grant co­or­di­na­tor for Mana­tee’s school dis­trict.

The dis­trict’s Mi­grant Ed­u­ca­tion Pro­gram cur­rently sup­ports about 445 stu­dents and fam­i­lies. Many of the fam­i­lies strug­gle with poverty, Me­d­ina said, de­scrib­ing stu­dents who could use a jacket or a pair of long pants dur­ing the win­ter.

“We have to take care of the child’s ba­sic needs be­fore they can learn,” Me­d­ina said.

One of the most ba­sic needs is health care. For that rea­son, the mi­grant pro­gram holds two re­source fairs each year, where fam­i­lies re­ceive health screen­ings, in­for­ma­tion ses­sions and re­fer­rals.

This year’s events were largely funded by a $5,330 grant from the Cas­sidy Fam­ily Foun­da­tion Fund, a gift made through the Mana­tee Com­mu­nity Foun­da­tion.

Each event falls un­der a pro­gram called Las Fa­mil­ias Salud­ables, mean­ing “healthy fam­i­lies.”

The dis­trict’s mi­grant pro­gram is col­lab­o­rat­ing with sev­eral or­ga­ni­za­tions to of­fer events be­tween De­cem­ber and Jan­uary:

Dec. 6 — an­nual re­source fair at East Coast Mi­grant Head Start,

34590 State Road 64 E., in Myakka City, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Dec. 8 — an­nual re­source fair at Till­man Ele­men­tary School, 1415 29th St. E., in Pal­metto, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Jan. 12 and Jan. 26— fol­low-up events at Falkner Farms, 35100 State Road 64 E., in Myakka City, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The events are solely for mi­grant chil­dren and fam­i­lies, but any­one can drop off a do­na­tion of new and lightly-used clothes or toys, Me­d­ina said.

UnidosNow and the Healthy Teens Coali­tion of Mana­tee County will host in­for­ma­tion ses­sions. The Florida Depart­ment of Health will of­fer blood pres­sure checks and di­a­betes screen­ings, along with test­ing for sex­u­ally trans­mit­ted dis­eases and hep­ati­tis.

All ef­forts are linked to the goal of help­ing mi­grant stu­dents grad­u­ate from high school, Me­d­ina said. His pro­gram of­fers tu­tor­ing, col­lege tours and other ser­vices, along with much-needed school sup­plies and cloth­ing.

Me­d­ina said any­one who wants to sup­port the Mi­grant Ed­u­ca­tion Pro­gram can reach him by email­ing med­i­[email protected]­a­teeschools.net, or by call­ing 941-751-6550, ex­ten­sion 2333.

Her­ald file photo

Mi­grant farm work­ers start a long day of pick­ing toma­toes at a Tay­lor and Ful­ton farm on State Road 64, in East Mana­tee County, in 2006.

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