Ten years ago the Alas program was created with the mission of preventing school-dropout and teen pregnancy, addressed to 12 – 15-year-old girls involved in ACE, Liga MAC’s stay-in-school program. Alas, which means wings in Spanish, offers a series of five interactive sessions designed to provide the girls encouragement and confidence to spread their “wings.”
The 2016 Alas sessions began at the Support Center on April 9th where Elva Haro, LIGA MAC’s Executive Director, and one of the founders of the Alas program, conducted a session in which the girls worked on the passage from childhood to adolescence.
On April 16th, the session took place at Costco and provided the girls with a first-hand orientation to employment opportunities for women. Haydee Arango, Costco’s Human Resource Manager, gave the girls a comprehensive tour of Costco’s facility, spending time in each of the major areas. Several employees shared their personal stories which included their levels of education. It became apparent to the girls that those with a higher level of education were working in the more desirable jobs.
The third session took place on April 23rd, and featured Heddy Villasenor, a psychotherapist specializing in human sexuality. The approach to the subject matter is the four holons of human sexuality by Eusebio Rubio: gender, erotism, affective relationships and reproductivity. So, the girls learn that sexuality is a much broad concept that is present in their whole lives. Heddy’s strongest message was one of overcoming violent and abusive situations.
The fourth session on April 30th was facilitated by Liliana Sanchez and Alicia Escobedo, two Mary Kay Top Executives. Sanchez shared her personal journey that included becoming pregnant at a very young age. Liliana is the perfect role model because she was able to overcome the difficulties of belonging to a vulnerable family, and found her own way to success. She is now an inspiration to other women. Alicia and Liliana gave the girls a treat by conducting a skin care class.
A beautiful Baja day greeted the 27 Alas students and their chaperones as they arrived at Palmilla Beach for the fourth session on May 7th with Celia Villa Lobos, a local psychologist and physical educator, led the girls through a series of team building and problem solving activities included the use of a variety of equipment and the open space on the beach.
Following the organized activities, the girls were given permission to go swimming; most didn’t hesitate and immediately ran into the water. For some of the girls, this may have been their first time playing in the ocean. While drying off, they enjoyed lunch and each other’s company. As has been the case with the previous years’ Alas programs, the girls seem to have bonded with each other and certainly were very comfortable interacting with each other.
The Alas students who walked into the Centro for the first session on April 9th were certainly not the same girls who participated in the last session at the beach. In just a short five weeks, the girls seemed to gain more confidence as evidenced by their willingness to speak up and ask questions. They also appeared to be very as ease interacting with each other and the chaperones. They are spreading their wings!