Board Member Spotlight: Christine

Over the summer, our board member Christine developed a Sensory Path on the playground at Buford Elementary School. The purpose of a Sensory Path is to allow students to use exercise and motion to release stress and cope with various emotional states.

Christine worked with DaVinci High School students to design and map out the course based on the available space and the flow they felt best met the needs of these elementary-aged students. Along with student volunteers and LumenSparQ board members, Christine and her team used bright colors and inviting shapes and characters to bring this design to life.

Christine writes, “The sensory paths give students a chance to spend a few minutes of their school day walking, jumping, bouncing, and ‘pushing themselves through their distractions. Experts say sensory paths can also help students develop motor skills, including balance, hand-eye coordination, and spatial awareness.

“Our program, the Juntos Wellness Program, first embraced the idea of a Sensory Path to support students who were sent to the office or self-referred and needed a space to ‘motor out big feelings’ before they were able to talk about them. In the past, counselors might walk with a student or give them a motor activity to do with their hands to help calm their bodies and minds.

“A Sensory Path allows students to not only motor their big feelings during challenging moments but also enable them to practice those skills ahead of time. Ideally, a sensory regulation course is used often. Teachers take time every few days to walk through the course, allowing students to practice movement, breathing, and other regulation tools. This practice creates muscle memory and can make it easier for students to use regulation tools in challenging moments. “

To learn more about Sensory Paths, see the following resources:
Here’s Why More Schools Should Explore Sensory Paths
Everything You Need to Know About Setting up a School Sensory Path 
10 Station Sensory-Motor Walk Activities for Schools

Lumenary #3 – María Saldaña

As we return to school this fall, we are honored to announce our third Lumenary, María Saldaña, English teacher at Lennox Middle School in Lennox, California.

In addition to her full-time teaching position, María coordinates the after-school LMS Student Book Club, a program we have chosen to support.

Read her full story

It seems that great minds think alike, as the Lennox School District recently selected María as Teacher of the Year, among a faculty of approximately 350 educators. It is well-deserved recognition. We wish her and her students the very best in the coming academic year.

LumenSparQ will honor María through the purchase of books she will select for the book club kids this year. These books will represent diverse and inclusive voices and perspectives.

We are grateful to all of our donors, as your financial support helps to make this possible. To support future programs, click on the link below.

Ready for the First Day of School

The installation of the Little Free Library for 156th Street Elementary School took place this past Sunday. We loaded the library, wood supports, and bags of cement into the truck and made for our destination.

As with all construction projects, it seems, the process wasn’t without its hiccups. Upon arrival, we discovered we had no access to electricity or water. So how would we power the tools and mix the cement?

Our installer, ever prepared, had almost all tools running off of battery, but the cement mixing would now take place by hand. A couple of return trips home and the kindness of neighbors resolved most of the other setbacks.

With the quick-dry cement cured, the time came to install the post. That’s when we noticed the bolts and nuts used to stabilize it did not match. I was sure I purchased the right pairing. Argh! One last trip to the hardware store, an exchange of parts, and we were back in action.

The entire process took a bit under three hours. We returned in the afternoon to weatherproof the post and plant a few succulents around the new LFL.

Here are some pics from the installation:

This morning, we made a final trek back to campus to pack the LFL with books donated by the Friends of the Palisades Branch Library and Geoffrey’s Comics. The library is now brimming with new reads, awaiting the arrival of the children.

The Little Free Library, complete with exciting new reads, stands ready for the students at 156th Street Elementary.

Thank you to all of our donors, supporters, and friends for making this campaign a success. Here’s to a wonderful start to the school year for Ms. Dudley and the students at 156th Street Elementary.

LFL Campaign Update

The build for our Little Free Library, supported entirely by the generous donors for this campaign, is complete. The funds raised covered all material costs and the installation at 156th Street Elementary School that will take place in late summer.

While we anticipated purchasing books with the excess funds, the library will now be filled with books given by the Palisades Branch of the Los Angeles Public Library and graphic novels donated by Geoffrey’s Comics in Torrance. The remaining funds from the campaign will go directly to the school.

Here are some pictures of the build process for our Little Free Library:

We designed and laser engraved a donor plaque which serves as a testimonial of support from the broader community for the work that Ms. Dudley has done for the students, faculty, and parents at 156th Street Elementary.

Donor plaque design and laser engrave were completed in-house here at LumenSparQ.

Through our social media channels, we will provide an update when the installation of the LFL takes place on campus. This campaign has been exceptional, and we know the students at 156th Street Elementary School can’t wait to use their new Little Free Library.

Thank you to all of our supporters!

Little Free Library Campaign

Over this next month, we are running a select fundraising campaign to install a Little Free Library (LFL) for Mrs. Dudley and her students at 156th Street Elementary School. 

The cost for materials and installation is $400. With your help, we can make this happen.

Our founder, John Umekubo, will design and build the LFL, similar to the one pictured above and in the campaign video below. With this DIY approach, we reduce our labor costs, and John can enjoy another opportunity to make something fun.

For our campaign donors, we will engrave your names on a wooden plaque mounted on the side of the LFL. This plaque not only honors your contribution but shows the students that there is an outside community that cares about their future and supports their learning.

View our campaign video below for more details. And thank you!

Lumenary – Sidra Dudley

Smiles. It’s all you see, even through the protective masks they wear. Beaming from ear to ear, these young learners have returned to campus after more than a year. For some, like the Kindergarten students, it is their first time stepping foot on campus.

The attending student body is at fifty percent capacity to accommodate safe social distancing in the classroom, but the joy in the air is palpable even in this reduced population. Amid the mildly trepidatious expressions on their parents’ faces, students push through to see their teachers and friends, most of whom they’ve interacted with solely through computer screens for the past twelve months.

Read the full story

The Freezer Is In!

Our first Lumenary, Kim Cameron, and her team at the Warrior Food Pantry received the commercial freezer this week. Thank you to all of our generous donors for helping to make this happen. This gift will positively impact the students facing food insecurity by providing goods that might otherwise be turned away as donations because they could not be stored overnight.

As Kim shares in the video, because the freezer is portable, the team can wheel this unit out during distribution times and offer these perishable items directly to the students in need. She also hopes to strike up a conversation with the local ice cream shop to see if they can donate a few goodies to go along with the meats and other frozen foods.

Enjoy the video, and please share the good news with your family and friends. Thank You!!

Our Heroes Page is Up!

We are happy to announce that the “Our Heroes” page is now published. This page encapsulates the heart of our work, the place where we spotlight the Lumenaries and SparQs and share their stories. For now, we have our first Lumenary, Kim Cameron, as the sole spotlight on the page. We are currently interviewing our second Lumenary and will post her story in the coming month.

We encourage you to bookmark this page so that you can return to catch up on all of the Lumenaries and SparQs that we honor in the months ahead. Share this with a friend or colleague, and spread the word about the powerful work these heroes perform every day.

Celebrating Women’s History Month

As we celebrate the incredible work of women throughout history this month, and every month, here are two recent social media posts from the amazing women here at LumenSparQ. And while on the topic of amazing women, we will soon announce our second Lumenary, a passionate, caring, and committed educator at an elementary school in LAUSD. More to follow about her in the coming weeks.

Women's Rights are Human Rights.
Women’s March, Los Angeles. Poster by Karina Umekubo

Katya De los Rios, Founder
On March 8th, 1911 my Grandpa Hector Ibarra Rodriguez was born in the state of Sinaloa. In his youth, they moved to Mexico City where he spent the rest of his life. Even though my grandparents lived in a typical household with machismo, my Grandpa became the most important source of love and support to my mother. My mom was free to be herself around my grandpa and felt truly loved and supported by him. He celebrated my mom’s milestones and applauded her sense of humor. My mom shone because the source of light was love. My grandfather found a way to connect in an environment that told men to not show emotions and treat boys better than girls. My mom became a source of light herself; celebrating and loving us deeply. I can feel the love that my mom still has for my Grandpa. Celebrate International Women’s Day by shining a light on a girl or woman you care about. Loving and caring for a woman has generational repercussions that truly continue to make a difference once the igniter of the light has passed on. Be that light today.

Women belong in all places where decisions are made, Ruth Bader Ginsberg.
Women’s March, Los Angeles. Poster by Katya

Isabel Umekubo, Teen Advocate
I am grateful to be blessed with a voice, one that I can call my own. It saddens me that many women across the world are stolen of their voice, and robbed of their spirit. In this world, women who were born in the wrong body are beaten and murdered. Women with disabilities are mocked and ridiculed. Women who love other women are battered and mistreated. Women in larger bodies are degraded and harassed. Women of darker complexions are terrorized and tortured. Every woman is a warrior, but in this life, we must dedicate everything we have to fighting for and beside those who have been excluded from the movement for so long. Lend part of your voice to someone so that theirs can be shown in a new light, where it is loved and cherished.

#WHM #IWD2021

Global Sustainable Development Goals

When considering the selection of our heroes to spotlight and support, we look to the UN Global Sustainable Development Goals for inspiration. These 17 goals were established and “adopted by all UN Member States in 2015, as part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development which set out a 15-year plan to achieve the Goals.” 1

Here are the 17 goals as adopted by the United Nations:

The mission of each future Lumenary and SparQ will undoubtedly connect to one or more of these global goals, operating at what the UN Secretary-General described as the third level of mobilization, People Action. At this level, “youth, civil society, the media, the private sector, unions, academia, and other stakeholders…generate an unstoppable movement pushing for the required transformations.”

The work of our first Lumenary at the El Camino Warrior Food Pantry aligns with a few of the global goals, including Zero Hunger, Good Health and Well-being, and Reduced Inequalities. We look forward to spotlighting future Lumenaries and SparQs, and the change-maker missions they implement in their communities.

  1. Quoted from “”