Wednesday, 18 students and 5 teachers took from the Paraisos de Color educational center in Medellín took off on a Viva flight 468 headed to Orlando, Florida en route to nearby Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, where they were greeted by Colombian planetary geologist Adriana Ocampo, director of NASA’s Planetary Sciences Program.
The group of students had been working on raising 70 million Colombian pesos, or approximately $19,000 USD to make the trip, when Viva Foundation executives heard about the effort in local media reports. The Viva Foundation contacted the school and offered to sponsor the flight of the students and their teachers, making their mission much more achievable. The students had been going door to door to raise the necessary funds to purchase the tickets.
They are headed to Florida to witness the launch of NASA’s Lucy Mission, which is sending an unmanned spacecraft to explore and study the Trojan asteroids, in the same orbit of the planet Jupiter. The launch is set to take place tomorrow, October 16, and the students will return via Viva flight 468 next Wednesday, October 20.
“At the Viva Foundation, we believe that education must go beyond educational institutions, it must be full of experiences and moments that children keep for their entire lives and that also are a motivation for their future. That’s why we joined this initiative, providing these 18 children and 5 teachers airfare for their flight from Medellin to Orlando. We are committed to the educational of children with fewer economic possibilities, but who have dreams that fly to the stars,” said Tatiana Vásquez, Executive Director of the Viva Foundation.
Founded in 1999 as a preschool and day care center, Paraisos de Color is an Elementary school located in the blue-collar neighborhood of Manrique, in the north of Medellín. The school and its students have won multiple awards and recognition for excellence in areas as diverse as sports, poetry and science.