AUSTIN, Texas, USA (AP) – In the gymnasium of a subsidized private school in North Austin, dozens of families occupy the stands while four pairs of Latino mothers and daughters talk about emotions that are often considered taboo in their culture.
Draw strength. Have courage. Create bonds as mother and daughter to overcome the difficulties they may have.RELATED
Elizabeth Rodríguez and her daughter, Lizbeth Okumura, are sitting next to each other before those gathered.
For more than eight years, they have both been part of an organization whose goal is to help Latinas succeed by strengthening relationships between mother and daughter.
Lizbeth is now 20 years old and hopes to graduate from Texas A&M University in 2022. Rodríguez is 46 years old and is about to earn a diploma. The group, With My Mother, motivates them both to achieve their goals.
“It is very normal to feel scared” as her children grow up and face all kinds of challenges, Rodríguez told the audience. His incisive advice: “With close communication, maintain a relationship with her.”
Rodríguez and Lizbeth are just two success stories from a program that aims to help Latinas flourish in school, but also in life by working to gain self-esteem and resilience among a group of young women who have long faced particular mental health problems.
“The work we do goes to the root of a problem,” says Johanna Moya Fábregas, executive director of Con Mi Madre. “It helps prevent many of the problems adolescents face – like not feeling worthy or feeling isolated, suicidal – all those things that if you have a very strong foundation, you are less likely to deal with them,” she says.
“Or, even if you deal with them, you are more likely to have the tools to overcome those problems,” he added.
With My Mother, she started in 1992 with a different objective: to increase the number of Latinas who finish high school and enter college. The nonprofit group has a requirement: Young women who enter must do so with their mothers or another influential person in their lives.
This article was provided to The Associated Press by the Arizona State University Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.