Diving Deep in the Zone
The World Is Looking More Colorful
By: Anju J. Rupchandani, M.S.Ed.-Managing Director, Zone 126 

We are more than a year away from our country’s next Presidential Election and it is clear that the playing field is very crowded. However, what is different this time around is that we have more women, and women of color looking to be the President of the United States. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and Sen. Kamala Harris have all thrown their hat in the ring thus far.

Yet it is women like Senator Kamala Harris and Representative Tulsi Gabbard that I am most excited about, not because of their views but because they are women of color that look like me. Growing up most of the people that I knew who were in positions of influence were not women of color. I was in the 7 th grade before I had my first exposure to a teacher who was a woman of color, those experiences continued to grow when I was in high school, but when I went to college those experiences seemed to regress. For the past 20 years that I have been working in the education non-profit sector, there is a gap when it comes to women leaders of color. However, it seems over the course of the last decade we are experiencing a very different wave, where our young ladies for the first time are seeing waves of women of color taking on leadership roles in education, business, tech and politics. A majority of these women are first generation or have immigrant heritage and they are saying unapologetically “I Am Here.” 

           March is Women’s History Month, and March 8 th is known globally as International Women’s Day, as a woman of color I am more excited now than I think I have ever been about how many of us are ready to take on the challenging role that comes with leadership. Every woman has her own successes and failures, but what is emerging for many of us is that we are owning our failures and not letting it define us. We are in an era where speaking up and pulling our chairs to the table are more important to the current and future generations. From here on out the world needs to know that all women, especially women of color, belong in roles of leadership because their experiences matter. 

News from the Zone
Pipeline Update
Inhale, Exhale: Young Yogi’s Are Now A Part of the Zone 126 Community Schools
By: Katherine Ray-Community School Director (PS 171Q)
Connect, breath, move, focus and relax these are the five elements that make up the Little Flower Yoga and Mindfulness Program model. On February 28 th , Little Flower Yoga PS 171Q, and Zone 126 collaboratively launched the early childhood mindfulness and yoga program for students in Pre-Kindergarten through 1 st grade as part of our US DOE Neighborhood Community School strategy. Little Flower Yoga a long-standing and highly respected organization in the field of yoga and mindfulness has been a part of the Zone 126 Cradle to Career work for the past four years at both IS 126Q and Long Island City High School. Through funding from the US DOE we have been able to establish this as a new program at PS 171Q, creating young yogis who are learning to calm their muscles, belly breathing, and how to re-focus their thoughts under two certified yoga teachers. Over the course of the nine weeks, our students in the early childhood grades will gain the benefits of learning to connect to themselves, control their breathing, move in a supportive manner, focus on their individual thoughts and relax so that they can personally succeed. 
Why Walking Voices Matter? 
By: Valentina Di Loreto-Community School Director (IS 126Q) 

IS 126Q Community School Director Valentina Di Loreto, Councilman Costa Constantinides, Principal Alex Angueira, and students celebrating the hydroponics lab installment

Why must we wait,
wait for our rights,
wait for equality,
wait for peace.
Why must we start,
start a war,
ruin our somewhat quiet lives,
start a revolution.
Why must we fight.
Why must we become the bad guys
In the eyes of others
We started it all
We ruined their lives
We ruined our lives
We ruined the peace
Why are we in the wrong?

It is quite evident that students are being inspired by the halls they walk each day, and that their actively showing their passion to paint the world into a better today for themselves, and a better world for all tomorrow.

*Students name has been changed to protect the identity of the individual because they are a minor. 

WE COUNT: YOUth Summit
By: Dylan Woloszczuk-Young Adults Succeed Coordinator
(Long Island City High School)  

On Saturday, March 9, Zone 126 held its second annual Youth Summit at the Variety Boys & Girls Club of Queens. The event drew almost 80 students out for a half-day event where youth were included this year in the planning process. The theme for this year’s summit was WE COUNT, with an emphasis on wellness and planning for the future. Some of the day’s activities consisted of, resume building, planning for a transition post high school, the importance of voting, and gender norms, to name a few. Several students from Long Island City High School helped to plan this year’s summit, and design workshops aimed to give youth the opportunity to safely express their thoughts and feelings about identity in this day and age. The student facilitators and student attendees were excited to come together to discuss this topic, because they lack the spaces needed to have these type of discussions. Anahi, one of the student facilitators said “I really enjoyed being able to co-facilitate the debate workshop. I had fun hearing the various opinions and seeing everyone have a fun time.” We want to give a special thank you to our partners who helped make the day a huge success: City Harvest, Community Word Project, Global Kids, Let’s Get Ready, and our amazing Facilitators/Community Volunteers: Cormac Nataro and Jose Dobles.

A Special thank you to Variety Boys & Girls Club of Queens for hosting the event this year.
What We Are Reading
  • On Ramps, Lane Changes, Detours and Destinations: Building Connected Learning Pathways in Hive NYC through Brokering Future Learning Opportunities - Hive Research Lab 2015
Youth Summit 2019
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We would like to thank all of our funders for their support: Thomas & Jeanne Elmezzi Foundation, US Department of Education, New York City Department of Education, Altman Foundation, Blue Buffalo Foundation, Pinkerton Foundation, and Phyllis Backer Foundation.
  *Some names and identifying details have been changed to protect the privacy of the individual