Maya Angelou once said, “It is time for parents to teach young people early on that in diversity there is beauty and there is strength”. Living in the community of Wheaton people are often not exposed to diversity, like you would see walking the melting pot streets in Chicago. However, there is an oasis in Wheaton that is awash in diversity. The oasis is the Marian Park community. There are over 20 countries represented by the residents at Marian Park, some of which are the Philippines, Somalia, Pakistan, Argentina, Iran, Eretria, Russia, Congo, and Tanzania. Walking around the community one would hear many different languages, see traditional African garb, women carrying groceries on their head, little babies wrapped to their mothers backs, and one would smell intriguing food that conjures images of places unknown to the suburban and urban mind. Amidst all this, one will hear the familiar sound of children playing. With a playground in the middle of the community kids congregate to swing, climb on the little playground, or play at the basketball court. With this sensory juxtaposition of familiar and unfamiliar, the concept of diversity can be deciphered.
The DuPage County Area Project’s mission is to unite families within communities to resources, services and education that will provide a positive impact to their daily lives and further promote a healthy environment in which children can live and grow successfully. We offer an after school program at Marian Park to kids age 7-18, to provide homework help and life skills. Through this program kids from all cultures gather together and develop relationships that show the beauty and strength of diversity. Through the kids, Maya Angelou’s words are coming to life. These kids attend school together, go to after school program together, and play together day after day. The bond has no comparison. It seems almost a matter of survival as their oasis is isolating. Unfortunately, differences are not always overlooked in the school system, so to have these relationships with their fellow community members is crucial. They band together as a true product of the melting pot. If residents were asked what their favorite part of Marian Park was, the majority would tell of the diversity they have encountered. This is why the Neighborhood Action Club hosted a MultiCultural Picnic on May 29th. The community gathered to celebrate the diversity of the community through food and games. The parents set a good example for the kids as they worked together to provide and run the event. And what is more beautiful than a group of people enjoying sunshine, food, and fellowship? Maya Angelou would say diversity.
If you are interested in learning more about the Neighborhood Actions Club or the work of the DuPage County Area Project, please contact Bob at (630)671-8000.