June 21, 2024

For a Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) council in Baguio City that used to not have an office of its own, the SK Council of Barangay Brookspoint Aurora Hill has come a long way not only for finally having a headquarters but also for making the most out of a small space to come up with a hub for young residents of the barangay that promotes the habit of traditional reading.

In spite of the limitations brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic, the Brookspoint SK Council pursued its planned projects beneficial to the barangay’s youth derailed by the pandemic when circumstances finally allowed it – building a quaint reading nook in its tiny yet multipurpose office strategically located overlooking the Busol watershed.

Van Paulo Sanchez, Brookspoint SK Council chair, said among the council’s youth programs, their initial plan prior to the pandemic was to build a small kitchen in the SK office that will serve as a livelihood hub for out-of-school youth residents of the barangay who can learn baking and cooking to earn an income.

But the plan was shelved temporarily as the barangay had to focus on health activities and interventions for Covid-19 prevention when the pandemic struck in 2020.

While the plan to provide livelihood and employment will still be pursued in the future, Sanchez, who works as a tutor among other jobs, and other SK council officials and members who mostly have a background on teaching, decided to build the reading corner when their new office-cum-youth center was completed.

Their aim is to provide a space where students in their barangay could huddle and instead of loitering will be encouraged to read books in its physical form as traditionally done before the advent of modern gadgets that allow access to e-books and online reference and research materials via Internet.

“As we know, our youth of today are less than keen about reading books but more on easier modes where they could access reading materials. So we thought of bringing back how reading was done before because traditional books are more reliable sources of information,” Sanchez said.

Fortunately, many children in the barangay are interested about holding physical books and turning the pages manually instead of scrolling a cell phone screen to read.

Days prior to its launching on June 3, children from the quaint neighborhood of around 2,000 residents have already started spending time at the reading corner inside the SK office/youth center, plucking books of their interest from the floor-to-ceiling shelf that carries around 200 assorted books for elementary students and young adults.

In the small space available, sofas and a center floor space with a mat are provided for convenient reading.  

Even before the SK hall was fixed, its limited books and sets of encyclopedia served as a haven for many foreign students lived in the barangay who came over to read or scan pages of books during the height of lockdowns and after allowances for Internet connection dwindled.

Sanchez said it is fulfilling to have the reading corner now because the school children can be reacquainted with reading books before most of them go back to face-to-face classes next school year.

The mini library, with most of its books donated by Bookends Bookshop and other residents, is also a big help for the Brookspoint Elementary School located within the compound where the SK office is, which currently does not have a library.

“In our little way, we are hoping to help students from our barangay who cannot afford to go to other places with libraries by providing free books and a space to read here at the SK office. It will also serve as a waiting area for children after school, and while waiting for their parents to pick them up, they can spend time reading,” Sanchez said.

Aside from providing the reading nook, the barangay’s SK officials have also been tutoring school children who come to the SK office when they encounter difficulties in understanding their lessons in their modules when distance learning was implemented due to the pandemic.

Brookspoint is one of the barangays in the city with an active SK council, youth population, and community involvement. The SK council as well as its officials and members are regular recipients of commendation as a group and in their individual capacities, such as being among the 10 outstanding youth leaders and organizations of Baguio, 2nd most outstanding SK chairperson, South Asian Cities awardee for gender and development advocacy, outstanding performances in various youth competitions in the city, and for their active involvement in various community programs, including its role in the city’s Covid-19 response system. – Hanna C. Lacsamana