Canyon Nest school serves 300 refugee and migrant children ages 3-10 at the US-Mexico border
The right to learn and play
For over two years, thousands of migrants seeking refuge in the United States — many of them children — have crowded into a network of shelters in Tijuana as two successive U.S. presidential administrations closed almost all access to asylum at the Southwest border.
PILAglobal began working in Tijuana in 2018 to provide quality early childhood education to children at the border who wouldn’t otherwise have access. Now serving 300 children ages 3-10 daily, Canyon Nest is the first school of its kind providing free education to children at a migrant shelter at the US-Mexico border.
At Canyon Nest, collaborative work and play coexist on a campus that is scaled for children. Brazilian Pepper trees, vegetable gardens, pathways and play yards invite exploration and wonder. The environment is warm, child-centered and inclusive. Children feel ownership of their school as they care for it and for each other.
In the classroom, supportive, responsive teachers bring a deep understanding of the lived experience and culture of the children in their care. The consistency, stability, and continuity of warm and nurturing relationships help children find their way from trauma to healing and growth.
Parent engagement is the bedrock of Canyon Nest. Whether attending a story play performance, perusing a self-portrait exhibit, or checking in with their child’s teacher at morning drop-off, caregivers are welcome on campus and encouraged to take part in their child’s school experience. In this way, Canyon Nest serves not just as a school for children, but as a nurturing community hub.