Lidia Rivera is a single parent with four children. She has been a part of PISEC since the very beginning and involved her children from their youngest years. Over time, she has seen her children develop their interest in science. Now her grandson is taking advantage of PISEC programs. Her initial incentive for joining was a free opportunity to get out of the house with young children, but today she sees PISEC as valuable for many other reasons.

Takeaway message from Lidia Rivera:

In essence, PISEC just opened our minds to other things. I'm hoping that, when my kids get older, they can do these things with their kids or even on their own. You know, science is always changing. Things are always changing. So there's always something new.

Lidia's connection with PISEC began early and continues to the present. She now brings her grandson and other family members. She sees the program as an opportunity to engage the whole family in a positive experience.

I think I enjoyed PISEC the most at the beginning, because my kids were younger, and that's when they were like, more into "wow!" Everything's new—the animals and all that other stuff. Now they're older. They know a lot about the stuff, and though they get excited and they like it, it's not as exciting to watch as when they were younger.

My oldest is now 23 and the other ones are 11, 12, and 17. But now I have my grandson, so you know, I get to watch him as I watch my other ones, my 11- and 12-year-old.

We started participating because, for one thing, it was free. Plus, when PISEC first started, I wasn't working, so I was at home. My daughter was very young, and I didn't want to go back to work until they were older. So, it helped me get to take them to places, without having to take it out of pocket. That was a great help.

I like the fact that PISEC programs involve everybody. And I'm able to take my grandson and my daughter-in-law and talk about the program. Everybody that knows me knows I go to just about every trip; I try not to miss one. And this year with the CASE program, I've really enjoyed the classes and the workshops.

Because of PISEC, Lidia felt empowered to support her son's budding interest in science. In addition to taking part in planned programs, she also purchased a membership to the Aquarium.

My 12-year-old is very hyper, very curious. He's always been interested in science, how things work. Before PISEC, we'd usually go to the movies, the parks; in the summertime, Sesame Place, Great Adventure. That type of stuff. But, to actually, sit down and decide to go to a museum—I'd never done that.

Because of PISEC, we got the Zoo membership free. So, I've been a member since then. So, that's kept me involved. I even had the Aquarium membership for a while. With my grandson, and with the [Aquarium's] renovations, I'm planning on getting that renewed. So, we've had more involvement even when it hasn't been part of the program. But, the program's just a big plus.

When we go on the PISEC programs, there's already an agenda. You know more or less what you're going to do. When you know there's already a schedule, it's more organized, and you know more or less what you want to look at and what you want to do. And they have the activities that get everybody involved, which is great.

PISEC has changed the Rivera family's perspective on science and on the idea of visiting science museums. Prior to PISEC, science museums were not on the agenda. Today, the Riveras make it a priority to visit and revisit Philadelphia's many science-related destinations.

One year, even after PISEC, when they were still little, we took a trip to Philadelphia. We went in the car and parked and we just walked around to the museums. That's something I would've never really done on my own. So, you know, things like that I would hope to continue to do. Now that I'm working, I don't make a lot of money, but I try to save money for places to go.

I see my son continuing with science. He's got a knack for it, so, hopefully, he'll continue and something will come out of it.

Lidia sees programs like PISEC as a benefit not only to her family but for the larger community. In addition to opening doors to young learners, it is also a tool for building stronger families and keeping children engaged in positive activities.

I hope that programs do continue. It's a shame that a lot of parents who can take advantage of it don't take advantage of it, because they really don't know how much they're losing out on. Kids are in school from September to July, and it seems like forever, but these are activities that really involve the family. I know with my family, I've noticed that when we do anything for the program, we seem to really get involved with it as a unit, which is what's important. I just tell people, when I see them, "Oh, you don't know about the program? Well, then you should go." And I try and get more people involved when I notice they're not in with the program.

I mean, it's so great for the kids, for the families, and I hope they do take advantage of it. I know I sure do.


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