Connecting and Inspiring Underprivileged Youth at Chamizal
At Chamizal National Memorial located in El Paso Texas, the Ticket to Ride program allowed over 3,400 disadvantaged students to visit and learn about the memorial. Chamizal is one of the largest open spaces in El Paso, Texas for environmental and cultural education activities. The program targeted underserved schools and populations.
Ranger Anne Doherty-Stephan shared that some students had never even been out of their own neighborhoods let alone to this part of the city or the National Memorial. The program managers had ambitious goals to bring 2,600 students to visit and they more than exceeded their goal by bringing 3,450 students to the park. The program also reached a wide range of children and youth with half the students aged 10 or younger, 40 percent between the ages 11-14, and 10 percent aged 15 and older.
Students participated in active, non-competitive movement games, observed stream table geologic demonstrations, and participated in wildlife and flora surveys. They also attended world-class cultural events in the park's 500 seat theater including the Santa Fe Opera and the Siglo de Oro Festival (classical Spanish Theater). For some, it was not only their first experience visiting a national park site but also their first experience visiting an art gallery or attending a live theatrical performance of any kind; some of the performances included Shakespearean works, Siglo de Oro/Spanish Golden Age works, modern dance, and opera. Doherty-Stephan shared.
Bringing these students to the park and opening their eyes to national parks, nature, and cultural activities was truly an eye-opening experience for these kids.