Origin: Original WHEEL Council Story
Theme: Grandmothers have important lessons that can change the adversity of impoverished neighborhoods.
Abuela, Pablo’s grandma, usually got up at dawn, but today she felt tired. As she looked out the window, she saw the dirt lawns of the Coffelt Projects where they lived. The houses were tiny and dreary and close together. It was so different from Mexico where she had grown up where there were streams and trees and fresh fruit. But she was glad to be in the US so her three grandchildren could have better lives.
All of a sudden, Abuela, sat straight up in bed with a jerk. She had remembered, this was the day, yes, por fin, this was the day of her grandson, Pablo’s, graduation from high school. She stretched, got dressed and hurried to breakfast.
Sitting at the breakfast table, Pablo looked beautiful in black slacks and a white shirt, ready for his last day of high school.
“Pablo, you look muy guapo,” said Abuela.
“Gracias, thank you for buying the shirt, Abuelita,” responded Pablo
There would be an assembly at 10 am. As Abuela looked at Pablo’s deep brown eyes she saw orgullo, pride in himself and his family.
Many memories flooded her with visions. She saw Pablo coming home, looking sullen, ready to punch in the wall when he was starting 8th grade, back in 2001. Abuela gave him a quesadilla for a snack, and for a short time, Pablo let down his guard of trying to be man and not show he was confused about how to be true to his family and succeed in school.
Pablo said, “My English teacher got mad at me because I didn’t the directions she gave me. She said we should be speaking English since we are in the U.S. I understand English, she was just talking too fast. It made me so mad.”
“Don’t ever forget the culture you came from,” responded Abuela
“I want to finish high school, but I don’t think I can. I see a lot of boys dropping out before they get to 8th grade, using drugs and getting girls pregnant,” Pablo said.
“I have faith in you. You will succeed. Pray to the Virgen de Guadalupe to find someone to help you at school.” Abuela responded.
The next day, Pablo saw a table set up at lunch recess. It was about the Wheel Club. They had stickers, candy and a slide show on the computer. He liked the man there. He spoke Spanish and looked like him and seemed kinda of cool. Albert told Pablo about the program and asked him to just come to the club meeting at lunch recess the next day to try it out. He said the Wheel Club stood for a circle where all the cultures of the world are respected and where each culture has its own special gifts. Albert said the club did fun things, earned some cool stuff and learned how to think for themselves and not use drugs or get diseases. So Pablo went the next day. He was shy at first, but soon he was hanging out with two of the boys from the club. He felt like they could help him get to high school next year.
During one lesson, Albert gave them a green book, the Storytelling PowerBook, that had drawings of the brain and neurotransmitters.
“Blah, Blah, Blah,” thought Pablo, “What a lot of big words. What is this one sy—nose, no synapse. Yea I want my synapses to fire and to get natural highs without drugs by dancing.”
The book had stories from Mexico and other parts of the world so he learned about his culture and others. There was another orange book about HIV that helped him learn how not to be a father at an early age or get diseases. He also went to computer classes and camping trip with the Wheel Club. After he made it to high school, he went back and helped out with the classes. He had a lot of pride in the fact he was succeeding and helping others. He had brought Abuela to a WHEEL Council picnic and she had even walked four miles with him on a Health March. Pablo had told her all about the Wheel Council and how it taught him to be healthy and to succeed.
Abuela remembered all these things about the hardships Pablo had faced and felt proud. Then her mind came back to the present day, and she and Pablo’s mother and her other two grandkids were at the high school graduation assembly. They heard Pablo’s name called. They saw him march across the stage. Abuela’s heart was full of pride and her eyes were wet.