Young girls of Latin heritage in the Columbus, Ohio region are learning to be brave, confident and strong thanks to the work of an alumna of The Ohio State University.
Proyecto Mariposas is the brainchild of Yahaira Perez-Caraballo, who founded the organization in 2011 as a way to build strong bonds between mothers and daughters. Seeing an erosion of traditional ties in the Latina community due largely to the increased workload many parents face, Perez wanted to create a space where girls could find inspiration and guidance.
“I struggled with my relationship with my mother,” Perez-Caraballo said, speaking with The Lantern, Ohio State’s student newspaper. “And I realized, having mentors in your life, having people to support you, having role models, it’s extremely important.”
Proyecto Mariposas’ weekly meetings are centered on a variety of topics that include nutrition, leadership skills, cooking, exercise and design, among others. They are held primarily in Spanish, and seek to promote, among the girls and their mothers, mental, physical, spiritual and emotional health and well-being.
The group also holds the Brave and Strong Summer Camp, a weeklong day camp for girls, collects and distributes school supplies and hosts local professionals that educate the group on their businesses and industries
Recently the group was visited by Tara Alexander, a Columbus area fashion stylist and graduate of Ohio State, who founded Style Mastery, a styling service that spreads a message of confidence and self-worth through fashion.
“I think that it is so important to have this sort of program now, especially with what our young girls and kids are experiencing between bullying and self-defamation,” Alexander said to The Lantern’s Lydia Freudenberg. “It’s just so important for them to understand that they have this worth.”
On October 8th, Proyecto Mariposas will observe Dia de la Niña, an international celebration of female children. The fete will be an opportunity for the girls to share and highlight their achievements and for parents and girls alike to dress in the clothing of their native country or region.
For information on how to get involved with Proyecto Mariposas or to donate to the organization – they accept money, school supplies and new or gently used clothing – please visit the link above or here.