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West Hartford Elementary Schools Illuminate the Town to Celebrate Diversity

Illuminate West Hartford 2022. Courtesy photo

West Hartford Parent Community Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) Groups at multiple elementary schools in town distrusted more than 2,000 luminary kits that we’re used to light up the town on May 4.

Illuminate West Hartford 2022. Courtesy photo

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On Wednesday, May 4, 2022 West Hartford Parent Community Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) Groups in Aiken Elementary, Braeburn Elementary, Bugbee Elementary, Duffy Elementary, and Webster Hill Elementary presented Illuminate West Hartford. This initiative was an opportunity to bring West Hartford families together to celebrate our diverse community, learn, and assert that no one should face hate and discrimination based on their race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, ability, immigration status, or religious belief.

Over 2,000 students and staff at participating schools were given luminary kits including a brochure with resources and information for caregivers to hold ongoing conversations with their families. On May 4 at 7 p.m. the luminary bags – many uniquely decorated by students – were lit and displayed to show these families’ commitment to stand for equity and justice in our community, illuminating West Hartford as the sun set.

Illuminate West Hartford 2022. Courtesy photo

“We loved that Duffy could be a part of this event and that we could collaborate with others across town to build and develop supporting resources for ALL families, including those who are part of traditionally marginalized groups. It’s so important to have these ongoing discussions on learning and action, both deliberately but also organically, with our kids, no matter how young or old. Even my 3-year-old can understand and engage with some of the concepts,” said Tracy Wu Fastenberg, co-chair of the Duffy Elementary EDI Committee.

In addition to the provided brochures, the supportive materials are available online for ongoing conversations and action: conversation tips for families, as well as a cache of resources to support families. As part of this initiative, West Hartford families were also invited to a virtual event with the Anti-Defamation League on April 27, part of ongoing opportunities put on by West Hartford Parent Community EDI Groups.

Illuminate West Hartford 2022. Courtesy photo

“Illuminate West Hartford was a beautiful opportunity to share the need for all community members to stand up as allies and teach our children to do so as well. We also recognized we needed to provide the ‘how’ to adults, while engaging children in a tangible activity they can remember and associate with the critical conversations we have as families,” shared Shiyrah Suplita, co-chair of Bugbee Elementary’s EDI committee. “Using these tools with my own family and driving around seeing the Bugbee neighborhoods filled with luminaries, inspired me to know that, as a community, we were all learning and sharing together.”

Illuminate West Hartford is an evolution of Aiken Elementary’s Light It Up for Solidarity held in 2021. “When we invited all of the other elementary schools to join us for this year, I didn’t expect so many fellow parents to step up and collaborate to help grow and expand this special initiative,” said Abiah Ruel of Aiken’s EDI, “Hopefully we can continue this and welcome other schools and families in the future.”

Illuminate West Hartford 2022. Courtesy photo

Illuminate West Hartford 2022. Courtesy photo

Illuminate West Hartford 2022. Courtesy photo

Illuminate West Hartford 2022. Courtesy photo

Illuminate West Hartford 2022. Courtesy photo

Illuminate West Hartford 2022. Courtesy photo

Illuminate West Hartford 2022. Courtesy photo

Illuminate West Hartford 2022. Courtesy photo

Illuminate West Hartford 2022. Courtesy photo

Illuminate West Hartford 2022. Courtesy photo

Illuminate West Hartford 2022. Courtesy photo

Illuminate West Hartford 2022. Courtesy photo

Illuminate West Hartford 2022. Courtesy photo

Illuminate West Hartford 2022. Courtesy photo

The purpose of the West Hartford Parent Community EDI Groups is to create a collaborative space for parents, educators, and community members to come together to listen, learn, and take action on equity initiatives for systemic change that will ensure all children have the opportunities for educational success. In 2017, the first parent-led, school-based Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion group was established. Since then, other EDI groups have been established at almost all public schools in West Hartford. For more information, follow West Hartford Parent Community EDI Groups on Facebook, website, or by contacting [email protected].

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