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Program profile: Aguilas

One of Liga MAC’s first supplemental programs, Alas (Wings in English), was designed for young women to help prevent teenage pregnancies. At the time, Baja California Sur had the highest rate of teenage pregnancies in the country. Premiering in 2006, the successful Alas program addressed only half the problem.

In 2015, a complementary program for young men called Águilas (Eagles in English) was introduced. Originally led by professional psychologist and sexuality clinician Heddy Villaseñor, the program expanded to include therapist Tomás Llamas.

In October 2019, Tomás and Heddy made a presentation based on their work with Liga MAC’s Águilas program at the 24th World Congress of the World Association for Sexual Health and the XII Congreso Nacional de Educación Sexual y Sexología and received recognition for their work from the Department of Psychology of Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México.

This year the Águilas program represented the first of Liga MAC’s student programs since the COVID lockdown to be held in person in a rented facility large enough to maintain social distance. Unfortunately Tomás was unable to attend but Heddy proceeded with help from Liga MAC staff, Elva and Consuelo.

Being the first in-person event in 14 months the course required special parental approval and received unanimous support from the parents of all 24 grade 10 and 11 students. One of the reasons the parents were so supportive of the program, is that the subject of sexuality in Mexico’s male dominated culture is still very much taboo. Parents have difficulty broaching the topic openly with their teens and in many cases lack the knowledge to properly handle the information.

Over 5 consecutive Saturday mornings starting April 17, Heddy, in a non-confrontational manner, introduced such topics as: the socio-economic consequences of teen pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases, gender rights, societal and domestic violence, and the legal rights of children in Mexico. Participants explored topics through role play and were encouraged to ask questions. Heddy emphasized the importance in these transitory times of taking time to get to know their partners. She invited them to become responsible not only personally but to lead by example in all their relationships.

 

At the end of the program the students were asked to provide feedback by responding to a questionnaire. Universally their comments reflected their appreciation for Heddy’s expertise and her ability to provide a safe environment for their sensitive discussions. 
 
Although much of the information covered in the Aguilas program is supposed to be taught in public school, teachers are seldom properly trained to successfully deliver the course content and many students acknowledged that much of the information had never been covered in school. 
 
Perhaps the most provocative questionnaire response related to the fact that 30% of the course participants were the product of teen pregnancies and that many did not know their fathers. Today Mexico leads all Latin American countries in teen pregnancies – a statistic Liga MAC is helping to change.

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