BOONE — To help connect the Latino community to local resources, Watauga County Schools is hosting a Latino Fair on April 19.
WCS Family Resource Coordinator Yolanda Adams — who also serves as a translator for WCS and the Department of Social Services — said the event is to “strengthen the community,” or “Fortalecimiento Nuestra Comunidad.” While the event targets Latino families, anyone from the community is welcome to attend, she said. The free event will be from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Watauga High School.
Of the roughly 4,700 WCS students, 444 students classify as having a Latino background, according to Adams. Of the 444 students, 241 are served in the English Language Learner program.
The fair is planned to have local organizations set up at various booths for people to visit for more information. Volunteers are planned to be on site to help with translating if needed. Organizations planned to be represented at the event are Watauga Compassionate Community Initiative, OASIS, Watauga Children’s Council, Legal Aid of North Carolina, High Country Community Health, Watauga Public Library, Watauga’s National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Immigration Justice Committee and FaithAction ID program.
“Sometimes we have resources in front of our eyes and we don’t know that they exist,” Adams said.
Adams said the booths will be helpful for those in attendance to meet one on one with local organizations. Booths will be set up for information from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. During this time, dinner — donated by members of the community — will also be available.
Attendees will also be given a card to collect stickers from each booth in order to be eligible for door prizes at the event.
The event will then have presentations starting at 6:45 p.m. in the school’s auditorium. The speakers for the presentations include a representative from the Hispanic Student Association at Appalachian State University (discussing healthy relationships in teens), Tommy Boyd from Western Youth Network (talking about the use of Juuls by teens), Boone Fire presenting information on fire safety and Daniel Knutson with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (sharing information on certain visas people can apply for).
Adams said the idea to have a presentation on fire safety was a result of a few of the families she serves losing their homes to fires recently. Knutson will share how some members of the community that qualify can apply for a U-Visa (for victims of crimes such as domestic violence or sexual assault) or T-visas (issued to sex trafficking victims).
Between the presentations, different groups will be doing demonstrations. Adams said some of the demonstrations will be community folklore dances from Mexico by one group as well as children from the Mount Vernon Baptist Church choir kids performing songs to incorporate the Latino culture.
Adams said the schools attempted a similar event several years ago, but wanted to bring more resources and expand the event this year.