The Story of JumpStart La Inmaculada de Quepos – Prepared by Ramona Dowdell, Peace Corps Volunteer
La Inmaculada is a community located just outside of Quepos Center along the southwestern coast of Costa Rica. Along with its surrounding neighborhoods, La Inmaculada houses close to 3,000 residents whom work within the Quepos community. While there are small business throughout that have historically generated income for the community, tourism is now crucial to the survival of families, located just 20 minutes away from Manuel Antonio National Park.
This will be the second year that JumpStart Costa Rica, a national program that offers free, intensive English camps for incoming seventh-graders across the country (www.jumpstartcostarica.org), has worked with at-risk youth in La Inmaculada. The previous camp made an incredible impact on its graduates’ high-school experience thus far. In 2015, we will be working with two schools: La Inmaculada and El Estadio. This camp will be based in El Estadio as they celebrate one year of expansion from a one-room school with rotting infrastructure to a facility with newly built pavilions and gated school grounds with ample classrooms for student growth. These young learners are at a pivotal crossroads between dropping out of school or seeing the benefits that high-school education could bring to their future as successful working adults.
In a town that suffers with social problems such as drug use - 50% of the elementary school student population reports witnessing drug use daily – and prostitution, along with child sexual exploitation running awry, La Inmaculada is a community that wants and needs opportunities like JumpStart Costa Rica for its youth. Parents, teachers, and community members are highly motivated to offer these young learners a chance to enjoy learning a language and give them a chance at a better life with a little outside support!