Press Releases
May 8, 2009
Local Agencies Offered Girl Empowerment Festival Workshops, Despite Cancellation Risk due to the H1N1 Virus

EL PASO, Texas – Originally scheduled to be the fourth Girl Empowerment Festival to be held in Texas and the second one in El Paso, the event faced many last-minute challenges due to the health concerns over the H1N1 virus that led to school closures and event cancellations throughout the Texas/Mexico border.

However, thanks to some very quick thinking by Mr. Jaime Rodriguez, last-minute arrangements by school officials, and the flexibility of the pressenters on the planning committee; a streamlined conference program was offered to over 150 girls on two middle school campuses: Canutillo Middle School and Desert View Middle School.

Our sincerest appreciation to Alica Rascon of Latinitas and Jaime Rodriguez of the Health & Human Services Commission, Office of Border Affairs, for spearheading the planning of this 2009 Girl Empowerment Festival in such a significant border city, and to all of the wonderful planning committee members and presenters who helped make it happen in a true spirit of collaboration despite the H1N1 virus scare.

Arte Sana is proud to have collaborated with the following local El Paso entities to offer empowering information to girls: El Paso County Attorney's Office, Girl Scouts Rio Grande Council, Health & Human Services, Commission-Office of Border Affairs, Latinitas, Rio Grande Safe Communities Coalition, Texas A&M University Prevention Resource Center, and the Thomason Hospital Women's Health Center.

The 2009 abbreviated program included:

R E S P E C T: What does it really mean to me? –Laura Zárate, Arte Sana Founding Executive Director
The warning signs and impact of teen dating violence, existing resources, and the active role that teens can play in helping friends in abusive relationships were discussed. Examples of songs that can offer both good and bad messages to young people were shared and girls were given tips on how to stay safe and promote respect among friends.

Teens, Club Drugs, and Alcohol –Susan Hernandez-Hurt, Texas A&M University– Prevention Resource Center and Adriana Cadena, Rio Grande Safe Communities Coalition
This presentation provided teens with the facts about Ecstasy, Marijuana, alcohol, and the dangers of using them. Girls reviewed and analyzed images depicting the effects that drugs have on one's body and social life, as well as alcohol ads that negatively portray women.

Media Savvy – Alicia Rascon, Latinitas
This session taught girls how to compare & critically evaluate advertisements aimed at girls. Participants reviewed ad samples from magazines, explored the tricks used to make models look perfect on magazine covers, and discussed the effects of media on girls.

The Heart of Self-Esteem –Susan De La Paz, Women's Health Center
–Thomason Hospital– This workshop addressed how self-esteem affects our daily lives. It also aimed to empower young girls to develop a positive self-image and facilitate a dialogue amongst participants in learning to appreciate our differences.

Promoting Girl Empowerment in Texas
Originally part of a larger Texas Department of Health, Office of Border Health mini grant project, the first Girl Empowerment Festival was offered in Laredo, Texas in 2004. The main goals of the event were to offer adolescent and teen girls crucial human reproduction, personal safety, and victim rights information in both English and Spanish, and to also promote victim advocacy and awareness through the arts. Arte Sana offered a second Girl Empowerment Festival (GEF) in Austin in 2007 that included age-appropriate workshop options for the girls to choose and a parent track. The following year, the GEF in El Paso included even more workshop tracks and we were able to reach more girls though the gracious support of Socorro ISD.

While more areas of focus have been added throughout the years to promote the needs of those whom the United Nations Interagency Task Force on Adolescent Girls refers to as “invisible girls,” key aspects of the GEF model have been defined as necessary for promoting a holistic approach of empowerment through community-based collaborations.

Previous Girl Empowerment Festivals and Partners

Girl Empowerment Festival 2008 - El Paso

Girl Empowerment Festival 2007 – Austin

Girl Empowerment Festival 2004 – Laredo

What girls & moms have said about the festivals...

'Girl Power' reception outlines plans for UN task force on adolescent girls

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