From the Knightly News
by Karem Cacheiro
The Latina Empowerment Group, also known as La Mariposa, is a group de-signed to give a selected group of girls at Northglenn Middle School a boost to their confidence while they learn to ac-cept where they come from and set goals for their futures.
According to group leader and Assis-tant Principal Mrs. Teresa Barajas, the group’s main goal is for the girls to learn more about themselves while at the same time learning about the cultures from which they came. “I want the girls to learn more about themselves and just how important their culture really is,” Barajas explained. “How they can contrib-ute back to their community.”
In fact, culture plays a very important role in the club. Barajas believes that it is important to know where you come from, no matter your culture. She thinks it’s important to be proud of where you’re from. That’s why a diverse group of girls was invited, even though La Mari-posa is a Latina Empowerment Group. “We have invited girls from any culture to be part of our group, because culture is important,” Barajas stated. “It’s im-portant to know where you come from and to know your traditions, rituals and
just what’s important about your culture, and I think that’s a key thing in our group.”
As Barajas has begun to learn more about the girls in La Mariposa, she’s started to realized what an awesome group it is. She’s discovered what the girls want to get out of being in the group. “The biggest thing I'm learning is that we (the group) are all about setting goals and how to best sup-port ourselves and the community,” she stated.
The members of The Latina Empower-ment Group believe the group is a way to connect as young ladies. They have begun to realize the group teaches them more and more about themselves, who they are as young women. At the same time, it
helps them acknowledge the world around them.
According to eighth grader Asenet Medrano, the main purpose of the group is to help these girls become comfortable in their own skin. “The Mariposa Group is productive for the girls,” she explained, “because it teaches us to be proud, to not listen to labels, and to always try our hardest.”
Many of the girls decided to be a part of the group so that they can be more self-assured, and, consequently believe in themselves more. ¨As a member of the Mariposa Group, I want to become more self- confident,” Eighth grader Isabela Castaneda stated.
The group’s members are realizing that the purpose of the group is all about ac-ceptance. Eighth grader Vanessa Alvarez, for example, stated, “I think the purpose of the group is to get us young ladies to step into the mindset of not being scared of being who we are and to own where we come from.”
La Mariposa meets every Thursday. Each week, a new female guest comes and joins the group, sharing her culture, where she comes from, her favorite foods, and what she loves about being a woman. The guest are all professional women who have found suc-cess in small business or other endeavors. The one thing they all have in common is that they are strong, independent, and successful. In other words, they are role models for young girls.
Every girl in the group loves the idea of a female guest coming and sharing with the group what they do as a profession.
Alvarez stated that she has learned a lot from each guests. “I’ve learned that if you continue to follow what you hold in your heart and encourage others, sometimes going a different road than the one expected can still get you to where you want to go.”
At the moment, The Latina Empowerment Group is only for eighth graders. Howev-er, there are plans in the works for expanding the group to include sixth and seventh graders.
Castaneda believes this is a great idea. “I think this group should extend to the other grades,” she stated, “because it's just not only eighth grade girls that have problems.”
If, in fact group leader Barajas decides to continue and perhaps expand the group to sixth and seventh graders, there will be openings for a new members next year. If you are interested, you should contact Ms. Barajas. You will be asked to fill out an applica-tion and provide a teacher recommendation.
So, if you like making new friends, helping others, helping the community, and learning more about yourself, you should definitely go for it.