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Capital Area Latina Youth works to empower young girls

Capital Area Latina Youth
Posted at 7:00 AM, Oct 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-03 11:06:47-04

LANSING, Mich. — After Donald Trump was elected, Maria Serrato knew it was time for her to step up and do something.

“I just kind of woke up the day after the election devastated. I felt very compelled to do something for our community. I have two daughters," she said.

And so, in 2017, she started Capital Area Latina Youth. The goal of the organization is to empower Lansing-area Latina girls and provide them with a strong sense of self and community.

Since its inception, Serrato said, the organization has helped about 30 Latina girls by providing workshops and inviting successful Latina speakers to show the young ladies how much they can accomplish if they work hard and set their minds to it.

“What we’ve done is we’ve brought in different speakers. For example we brought in a sous chef from MSU to teach the girls to cook. That was a fun one. Its not like a membership-based program. Its just like, 'Hey we have these really awesome programs. If you have the time to come, you can,'" Serrato said.

Jovanna Gallegos has been coming to the workshops since the program started. She is now a senior at Eastern High School.

Gallegos says the program has helped her.

“I’m more comfortable with being Latin American, with being Latina or Chicana," Gallegos said.

In addition to becoming more confident about her heritage, Gallegos said, it's nice to fellowship with other girls who come from similar backgrounds.

“Even though we might come from different ethnicities, we tend to have the same upbringing and it's really nice to talk to someone about how we’re feeling," Gallegos said.

COVID restrictions changed the way the group operated for the last year and a half, but now they're planning to meet for the first time since the pandemic hit on Oct. 24. The workshop will be on healthy relationships.

Capital Area Latina Youth meets once a month on the campus of Michigan State University.

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