Community and government advocates at Communites in Focus!
WASHINGTON, DC - MLOV and the DC Office of Human Rights (OHR)
celebrated the 9th anniversary of the passing of the DC Language Access Act with "Communities in Focus" on April 23, at The Dunes
. The celebration featured immigrant oral histories, presentations of the first annual Language Access Champion awards, and performances by local musicians.
Participants of "Communities in Focus" were invited to view the photographs of 5 immigrants from the Latin@, Asian Pacific Islander and African communities, as well as listen to their oral histories in their own language. Included in the showcase were Tamira Ramirez
, a community organizer with the Latino Economic Development Center; Qihuang Wang,
a DCPS student, Ngozi Nmezi
, Director of the Mayor's Office on African Affairs, Arturo Griffiths
, a community organizer with DC Jobs with Justice; Wumei Liu,
a restaurant worker.
Following a rousing performance by the Chin Hamaya Culture Center
, Deputy Mayor of Health and Human Services Bibi Otero
presented the Language Access Champion awards. This year's recipients were Winta Teferi
from the Mayor's Office of African Affairs
, Marita Etcubanez
from the Asian American Justice Center
and Joana Ayala
from the Student Multiethnic Action Research Team (SMART)
. Congratulations to all our recipients, and thank you all for everything you do to promote and strengthen language access in our District!
Our evening concluded with a heart-felt performance by the Tetra Boys
, DC's first multi-lingual English Language Learned (ELL) student band, and Danse Flat
, an indie-pop group from DC.
View pictures from this event in this slideshow!
A special thanks to all of our supporters!
We could not have hosted this event without our partners. A special thanks to Gustavo Velasquez, Monica Palacio, Stephanie Franklin and Elliot Imse at the DC Office of Human Rights
; Angela Lam, a former MLOV AmeriCorps VISTA who raised $275 for MLOV through her Birthday appeal; Tiffany Finck-Haynes and Tereguebode Goungou for their work on the Prescription for Inequity report
; and all our volunteers: Rachel Freeman, Marshall McCurry, Anna Duncan, Fayzan Gowani, Ben Parisi, Amit Bagga, all the SMART members, and Sahar Shafqat for making this event possible!
We would also like to take this time to thank our sponsors: Epoch Times, Don Juan, Beau Thai, Jyoti, Keren, Meskerem, La Tasca, Meze, Julia’s Empanadas, Bukom, and the Washington Trophy Center for funding this event.
Entertainment was provided by Chin Hamaya Daiko, Tetra Boys, Danse Flat, and Azul. Space was provided by The Dunes, a special thanks to Star Silva and the rest of the crew for all their help.
As always, we thank the DC Language Access Coalition and our District's language access advocates for ensuring that everyone has access to public services, regardless of language spoken.
If you were not able to attend our event, but would still like to support MLOV and its language access work, please visit this page
On April 22nd, one day after the 9th anniversary of the passing of the DC Language Access Act in 2004, MLOV released (in English) the report highlighting the need for easier-to-understand prescription labels and language access at pharmacies that we have been working on with American University Washington College of Law's Immigrant Justice Clinic. This report release occurred at a press conference/rally held in collaboration with Ward 1 Councilmember Jim Graham, in front of the CVS in Columbia Heights (with the cooperation of the pharmacy too!). The full report, entitled "Prescription for Inequity: Challenges faced by Limited English Proficient patrons at DC Pharmacies" is online as well, here: http://www.mlovdc.org/report-prescription-for-inequity.html
. The press conference was very well attended by our local advocates and organizing community, as well as community leaders representing the Latino, African, and Asian Pacific Islander immigrant communities, in addition to the local African American community. We also had excellent coverage in the press, including print, radio & TV:
Washington Examiner: http://washingtonexaminer.com/advocates-to-seek-law-requiring-interpreters-for-d.c.-pharmacies/article/2527757
WAMU 88.5 FM:http://wamu.org/news/13/04/23/dc_pharmacies_a_quagmire_for_non_english_speakers
El Tiempo Latino: http://eltiempolatino.com/news/2013/apr/26/etiquetas-de-medicinas-escritas-en-varios-idiomas/
It is clear that this issue is one of great importance to a diverse set of stakeholders, and that having translated copies of the report and interpretation services for future convenings regarding the pharmacy campaign will be essential to increasing community ownership and pushing forward Graham's support to holding public hearings and introducing amendments to DC Code this summer, as he announced at the press conference.
MLOV is now working with members of the Legal Committee of the DC Language Access Coalition as well as other supporters of the Access Rx campaign
on the next steps of this campaign -- including drafting a bill with Council member Jim Graham's office, to be introduced ASAP to the City Council, and advocating for a public hearing where LEP/NEP community members can testify on the need for amendments to DC Code which would strengthen the ability of our low-income, limited English proficient, low-literate and/or elderly communities to safely and independently access prescriptions at DC pharmacies!!
After 7 months of planning strategy, meeting with decision makers, outreach, media production, and action planning, SMART members finally won their campaign for English Language Learner Support Groups at Calvin Coolidge Senior High School and Woodrow Wilson Senior High School on March 16th and 17th!
First convening of Wilson's ELL Support Group!
Comprised of students, parents, teachers and community members, English Language Learner Support Groups will ensure that ELL students receive the resources and support needed to succeed in DC Public Schools. ELL Support Groups will help implement an ELL Orientation, in which newcomers receive information in their own language, and an International Day at different high schools.
At the Coolidge ELL Support Group meeting, the group decided that it should reach out to adults who were previously ELL students in high school, to share their experience and guidance in crafting the ELL Orientation.
At the Wilson ELL Support Group meeting, the group decided to pilot a mentor system in which an older ELL student would guide the way for newcomers, during the school year. Another idea that came up is a translated fact sheet for parents of ELL students, that would answer questions such as, "What are the SATs?" and "How to choose elective courses".
ELL Support Groups will serve as the sustainable mouthpiece for ELL student issues, and hold school policies accountable to ELL student needs. SMART looks forward to realizing its other campaigns through the power of ELL Support Groups!
Congratulations to all SMART members for all your hard work!
MLOV kicked off last week with an African Immigrant Senior Health Fair to celebrate African Immigrant history and culture in the District as well as black history month. The day was full of fun activities, music and food as well as free health services and information about other public services available in DC.
Reflecting on the importance of the event, one participant said, "We have to realize that this is our HOME now. We are not going back to our country. I know now that I have rights here. We are here, and we need to be politically active. We, as Africans, can contribute politically and be engaged. That is how we can rise up and change things."-Thiopian community member, age 68
The event was made possible by The Department of Parks and Recreation
who hosted the event at the Fort Stevens Recreation Facility
. The Office on Human Rights
, La Clinica del Pueblo
and The Office on Asian Pacific Islander Affairs
made our multi-lingual event possible by providing interpretation equipment.
Thanks to the following groups for providing important information, workshops and health screenings: The Office on African Affairs
, Department of Health
, Department of Mental Health
, DC FEMS
, DC Department on Aging
, Hepatitis B Initiative of DC
, DC Public Service Commission
, Howard University Hospital
, Legal Counsel for the Elderly
, and Small Smiles Dental Center
. For more information, contact each agency.
We also had a lot of tasty food thanks to DC Central Kitchen
, Rahama African Restaurant
, Zenebech Ethiopian Restaurant, Black Lion Market, Dollar Star and Keren. Even if you missed the event, be sure to visit each place for a memorable lunch or dinner. You won't regret it!
SMART members have had a very busy month! Between DCPS Oversight Hearings and our Parent Teacher Conference action, SMART is making great headway towards ELL Support Groups!
On Friday, February 22, 2013, our Lead Student Organizers, Lisa Zhao and Shen Qu testified in front of Councilmember David Catania, the Chairman of the Committee on Education on the issue of accelerated graduation for ELL students. After our testimonies, Councilmember Catania promised to ask DCPS Chancellor Kaya Henderson on why there is a pressure on ELL students to graduate ahead of schedule. We look forward to hearing Ms. Henderson's response.
SMART member spraypainting our SMART tshirts!
In addition to testifying, our SMART members have also been busy preparing for our Parent Teacher Conference Action! Over the month of February, our student organizers created flyers targeting parents, translated said flyers, spray-painted SMART tshirts, and practiced their pitches for ELL Support Groups.
On Monday, February 25, 2013, at Parent Teacher Conferences, while the parents waited to speak with the teachers, our students made contact with parents and invited them to join our ELL Support Groups. We now have at least 15 parents committed to attending our first meeting!
Congratulations to our youth organizers on the success of their Parent Teacher Conference Action!
SMART organizers at Wilson!
SMART organizers at Coolidge!
Coolidge Parent Teacher Conference Action
Wilson Parent Teacher Conference Action
Our Lead Student Organizer, Shen Qu, reports back on SMART's meeting at Wilson on January 18.
Translation by Carol Tsoi:
"Last Friday, at Wilson High School, we had an ELL support organization meeting (SMART). The attendance was not as high as expected, but we had Ms. Ball participate.
At this meeting, Ms. Ball suggested several good ideas. For example: newcomer students to the United States in their first year should not be able to fail their English class. Also, SMART should work with other student groups, and more ideas. Dzung and the rest of us shared our experiences of our first day of school at Wilson. It was a good experience for all of us.
To conclude, other than the attendance, the meeting was not bad."
Thanks Shen, for our first youth-written blog post! Stay tuned for more updates from the youth themselves!
MLOV Executive Director Sapna Pandya joined eight other new Commissioners on the DC Commission on Asian and Pacific Islander (API) Affairs, officially taking the oath of office administered by Mayor Vincent C. Gray at ceremony at the John A. Wilson Building on February 8, 2013. Following the ceremony, the Office on API Affairs held a Lunar New Year celebration to welcome new Commissioners, with over 100 in attendance.
The role of the Commission is to advise the Mayor and advocate for the interests of the Asian and Pacific Islander Community in DC. Commission members meet monthly to discuss updates on programs, issues, and initiatives and report back on their particular constituencies so that the administration can better serve the Asian and Pacific Islander community.
Sapna will continue to endeavor, in this new role, to represent the diversity of the Asian and Pacific Islander community, particularly the vast array of languages spoken, ethnicities, religions, sexual orientations, genders, and class backgrounds. She further hopes that her presence on the Commission will bridge the gap between opportunity and access for immigrant community members in the District --- further enabling her fellow Washingtonians to advocate on their behalf.
In Mayor Gray's remarks at the ceremony, he proudly mentioned the first API Youth Town Hall which he hosted in March 2012. MLOV's own SMART Lead Student Organizer, Lisa Zhao, was one of the stand-out youth advocates present at this town hall, a point that Sapna made during her remarks, where she pointed out that we need to grow more leaders like Lisa -- young, older, and in between, to participate in key decisions that impact their lives.
From the Mayor's Office on Asian and Pacific Islander Affairs' official press release:
The DC Commission on Asian and Pacific Islander Affairs was established on August 12, 1986 with the signing of Mayoral Order 86-130. Each commissioner is appointed and serves without compensation. The nine public members are: Dana Tai Soon Burgess, Christopher Y. Chan, Simone E. Jacobson, Eugene D. Kinlow, Nicholas C. Lepham, Lawrence T. Liu, Ajay K. Ojha, Sapna D. Pandya, and Laura Shin.
The 10 ex-officio non-voting government representatives chosen by the Mayor are: Yi-Ru Chen (Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency), Elizabeth P. DeBarros (Department of Employment Services), Dennis O. Gobantes (Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department), Matthew Green (Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs), Sonia P. Gutierrez (Department of Housing and Community Development), William O. Howland, Jr. (Department of Public Works), Garret Lum (Department of Health), John Stokes (Department of Parks and Recreation), Sakina B. Thompson (Department of Human Services), and Leeann Turner (Metropolitan Police Department).
Download event flyers in French and Amharic here:
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The Nail Salon Project
kicked off the start of 2013 with a health fair and workshop to continue the advancement of occupational health and safety for nail salon workers and owners in the District. Tuesday, January 29th MLOV
and the HEP B Initiative of Washington, DC
partnered to provide free glucose, cholesterol and Hepatitis B Screenings to ensure everyone maintains proper health.
After testing, MLOV gave a presentation about how to protect children from dangerous chemicals in nail salons. In most cases, children are more susceptible to developing health problems after experiencing chemical exposure than adults. Although chemical sensitivity and a child’s overall health must be taken into consideration, there are several factors that raise their chances of developing health problems due to chemical exposure. During rapid periods of growth, which all children experience, their developmental processes can be easily disrupted due to minute chemical exposures, causing irreversible, lifelong effects. As the nervous system does not fully develop until the age of 18, children can absorb toxic substances to a greater degree than adults. The different proportions of water, fat and protein in their bodies than adults also decrease their ability to detox and excrete substances. Additionally, children’s lower body weight means they are subject to breathing in more air than adults, exposing them to more chemicals. Children also consume more food and water than adults to their ratio of body weight. If food and drinks are exposed to chemicals in a nail salon, these chemicals are absorbed into the food and drink and absorbed by the child.
Due to chemical exposure and susceptibility to developing health problems, the number of children with asthma, allergies, Autism Spectrum Disorder, learning disabilities and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is historically high. In order to prevent these numbers from rising, it is essential that nail salon workers and owners integrate some of the following actions into their daily practice to protect both children and themselves: use gloves and masks, open windows to circulate fresh air, avoid using Acetone nail polish remover, use self-closing lid trashcans and change garbage bags daily, choose products that don’t contain Toluene, Formaldehyde or Phthalates and keep container lids closed and tightly sealed when not in use.
After the presentation by MLOV, the HEP B Initiative of Washington, DC gave a presentation about Hepatitis B, which is a contagious liver disease. Left untreated, the disease can cause death, but with proper treatment it can be managed. The disease disproportionately affects the Asian-American community and nail salon workers have a high risk of transmitting or contracting Hep B due to the nature of their work. Check out
a study done by the American College of Gastroenterology in October 2011.
After screenings and presentations, everyone enjoyed a tasty lunch and good company.
Language access training for DC LAC
On January 29, 2013, the DC Language Access Coalition
members attended a training on the 2004 DC Language Access Act. This training was given by David Steib, Esq. member of the Legal Committee of the Coalition.
The Language Access Act was passed to allow the Limited English Proficient immigrants to access public services and programs in their languages. David broke the Act down to make it easy to understand for advocates working with the LEP community and newer members of the Coalition. The PowerPoint presentation was 46 slides long and was given in 2 hours. David covered all from covered entities and the requirements under the law and ended with 10 steps on how to file a complaint.
Attendees learned a lot from this training and asked to have it repeated every year as refresher training. Presently, the training also served as an inspiration for Coalition advocates who are putting together the Coalition’s advocacy goals for this year. The presentation is below or you can also request a copy via email to email@example.com