Be Kind, Do Good, Enjoy
One of the biggest passions has always been to meet and interact with the people around me. That has allowed me to recognize and absorb the many realities that surround us.
Since moving to Colorado in 2017, I have been very blessed to join a giving community that has allowed me to become an instrument of unity and empowerment for many individuals in our valley.
For the past three years, I have worked for Raising A Reader; a local non-profit organization focused on Early Literacy. I also serve on Amplifying Voices' board of directors; a local non-profit organization committed to giving everyone in our communities a voice through the arts. And I am a member of the Early Childhood Council for both the Roaring Fork School District and the RE-2 School District.
In 2020, I was awarded the Helen Klanderud Exemplary Service Award by Pitkin County Human Services for helping countless members of our Latino community access resources and relevant, factual information in Spanish during the COVID-19 pandemic. My husband, Samuel Bernal, and I received The Aspen Heroes award by Theatre Aspen for these same efforts.
Through storytelling, public speaking, workshops, and collaborations with different organizations, I have developed a strong connection with a large and diverse population in our valley, which in return has allowed me to bring awareness, information, resources, and support to many at-risk families in the Aspen to Parachute corridor.
MENTAL HEALTH FIRST AID
Mental Health and Emotional Intelligence are very important to me. I strongly believe everyone should be able to live life to their fullest potential, and taking care of one's mental and emotional well-being is crucial to be able to do so.
I see a big need in our communities for mental health resources and providing our youth and adults with the necessary tools to balance and approach life's challenges.
That is the reason why, in 2018, I became a certified bilingual Mental Health First Aid instructor for both English and Spanish speaking audiences. Since then, I have worked with Public Health departments in multiple counties, local non-profit organizations, and school districts to bring knowledge, awareness, resources, and a message of hope to individuals who might know someone or themselves going through mental health/or substance use issues.
From Police Officers to Public Health employees, as well as the general public, a large number of people have attended my training to learn how to recognize signs of mental health or substance use challenges in adults, how to offer and provide initial help, and how to guide a person toward appropriate care if necessary.
I am now also a certified Youth Mental Health First Aid instructor as well, which allows me to teach adults (parents, family members, caregivers, teachers, school staff, peers, neighbors, health and human services workers, and other caring citizens) how to help an adolescent (age 12-18) who is experiencing a mental health or addictions challenge or is in crisis. This training is primarily designed for adults who regularly interact with young people.
What book made YOU a reader?
For me, it was this book by Charles Perrault that made me a reader before I even learned to read!
I am a firm believer in the power of literacy, books, and words, and know all too well it all started during those nights being read to by my mother until I fell asleep.
Through my work as Associate Director of Raising A Reader - Aspen to Parachute, a local non-profit organization focused on Early Literacy; I promote regular parent-child book sharing routines with the knowledge that reading aloud to our children paves the way for their future success in life.
For the last three years, I have been committed to bringing bilingual, bicultural, research-based resources to promote healthy child brain development strategies for our local families, and build healthy parent-children bonds.
This has been especially true during Covid-19 times when children need reassurance, comfort, and a caring routine more than ever.
The situation has impacted our local children in ways they might not grasp fully, but we know their worlds are being disrupted just as much as ours.
This is why from the beginning of the pandemic, I have been putting more emphasis on the importance of book-sharing and creating a safe routine for the little ones with weekly live online storytime sessions in both English and Spanish, bringing a familiar face into their homes, and a sense of normalcy to their lives. I am also doing storytime in Spanish for the Garfield County Public Libraries.
These are all part of our efforts to bring stories, words, and language to our local children, and it also works as a reminder for parents to not only read to their children every day, but to make it frequent, make it memorable, and make it fun!
©2018 by Iliana Renteria.