Ujima, meaning ‘collective work and responsibility’ in Swahili, is the name of a new, free after-school program offered by the Father’s Group and Bend-La Pine Schools.
Though focused toward students of color, the classes welcome all students to learn about cultures outside of, or including, their own.
“Many of these students have never seen African Americans even in their own classrooms every single day. So we want to make sure we provide that resource because we’re all educational professionals,” said Bend-La Pine School Board Member Marcus Legrand.
Ujima is part of a push for more inclusive learning from Bend-La Pine Schools.
The district believes more diversity aids the growing community.
“As the population grows and as this place grows more diverse in terms of ideas and education we need to make sure we incorporate different things too,” said Legrand.
The free after-school program will kick off on September 29th, that’s next Wednesday, outside of the Bend-La Pine administration building on Wall St. downtown.
The program is open to middle and high school students and carpooling between parents is suggested.
Many instructors for the program will be people of color to provide students with mentors that feel representative of their own communities.
“As a founding member of the father’s group, the afterschool program was one of the first programs we wanted to develop. Having raised my own children in the community, I was keenly aware of the lack of culturally based education available to my children and all children within the Central Oregon community,” said Ujima instructor Gordon Price.
Ujima will offer classes in arts, leadership, health and wellness, financial literacy, social justice, and college and career readiness.
Each unique lesson intends to empower students and give them a head start.
“We all have a commonality with one another and that is our education. That is our privilege. Let’s take advantage of it and let’s do it together. Let’s not do it separately,” said Legrand.
The program will run until November 17th, just before Thanksgiving weekend, and Legrand said Ujima will be offered from this term forward.