Luna y Cielo Play: Berwyn’s mother creates a bilingual playroom to help millennial parents teach their children Spanish

CHICAGO– Growing up in Logan Square, Vanessa Avalos didn’t learn the Spanish language as a child. However, Vanessa and her brother have made it their mission to learn their ancestral language when they come of age. When Avalos had children of her own, she decided to take a different approach from her parents.

“When we started having children, I realized that if I didn’t make the effort to make them bilingual, they would lose our culture and our language,” Avalos said.

To help her children become bilingual, Avalos took them to various events in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood and participated in activities such as Spanish story times at libraries.

“I realized there were a lot of people in my network who were in the same boat, a lot of Latino moms who wanted to raise their kids bilingual, but they didn’t have the support,” Avalos said. “Then it sort of turned into a business.”

Jessica Cevas, creator of the “Viva La Mami” blog, drives almost an hour to Luna y Cielo classes, so that her son, Diego, can participate.

“I consider myself first generation in the United States, so Spanish was my first language at home,” Cevas said. “It’s something I want to continue bringing to my son. That way he can really benefit from the language and the culture.”

Luna y Cielo Play is a playroom and learning center where children of all ages can learn Spanish and celebrate different Latin cultures.

According to Avalos, the long-term goal is to open a physical storefront to host bilingual games and Spanish lessons. Mum Berwyn is hoping to get a space in Logan Square, where she grew up.

“In the ’90s, there were a lot of Latinos in this neighborhood, and now they’re leaving,” Avalos said. “But it’s great to say that I can go back to Logan Square and root for Luna y Cielo.”

Once Avalos secures a storefront, she plans to create four components for Luna y Cielo Play: Spanish lessons, culturally appropriate games, a gift shop, and a cafe selling products from local Latino vendors.

Find out more on the Luna y Cielo Play website.

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