Thursday, April 26, 2012

Hopping Ahead with Parents as Teachers

Adryan, four months old, looks around with curious eyes and a bright smile in the arms of his father, Virgil. Seeing Lorina, his family’s Parents as Teachers Parent Educator, he begins to laugh and bounce, fitting of his Hopi given name, which means “hopping one”.

Virgil Joshevana and Toya Hood, Adryan’s devoted parents, are both members of the Hopi Indian Tribe. Before Adryan was born, Virgil and Toya wanted to make sure they had as much parenting information as possible, so they chose to enroll in Parents as Teachers, a free home visiting program funded by First Things First for parents with young children in the Verde Valley.

“There are different ways to raise your kids,” says Virgil, Adryan’s father. “This program gives us more information on ways to raise children. Without it, we would only know what we know.”

Lorina, Parent Educator with Parents as Teachers, visits the family at their home in Camp Verde every two weeks. Each time she visits, Lorina brings activities, handouts on Adryan’s stage of development, books for Adryan to promote his language and literacy development, and connects the young family to any resources they may need. As a Parent Educator, Lorina is connected, and knows about the variety of programs available in the Verde Valley area for families raising young children.

Parents as Teachers is designed so that families meet with Parent Educators in the home, the most familiar environment for the baby, Toya appreciates the convenience of this. “Trying to meet somewhere else with a baby is a hassle,” she explains. Toya keeps the handouts Lorina gives her and plans to share the information with her pregnant friends and her friends with babies. That way, what she learns can benefit everyone.

In all cultures, parents are a child’s first teacher. From the day they are born, children begin building the brain connections that will serve as the foundation for a lifetime of learning. At four months old, Adryan is going through one of his most critical periods of learning and development. Together, his parents, family and Parent Educator Lorina are working to make sure he is healthy, learning, and growing towards his full potential.

Already ahead of his age group, Adryan is rolling and scooting at a stage normal for a baby weeks older than he is, investigating the world around him with enthusiastic determination. Next time Lorina visits, she plans to bring information on child-proofing a home. With Adryan’s eagerness to explore and learn, Virgil and Toya will welcome it.

Parents as Teachers is a program of Arizona’s Children Association and is funded by First Things First in the Verde Valley. For more information on Parents as Teachers, please call Arizona’s Children Association at 1-888-771-3435 X 2409.

Special thanks to First Things First for this story contribution. For more information on First Things First, the statewide organization that works to ensure all children ages birth to five years are healthy and ready to succeed, please visit

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

My Perspective

Written by Montserrat Caballero, director of Southern Arizona Center Against Sexual Assault
As published in Latino Perspectives Magazine, April 2012

In 2001, I was part of an all-volunteer committee that brought the first Spanish language production of the play The Vagina Monologues to Arizona. If you haven’t heard of it, it is an amazing play that is based on interviews with women on how they feel about their, you guessed it, vaginas and everything associated with them – the positive and negative.

I remember sitting in meetings and agonizing about how to advertise the play. We were ready to go on the radio, write press releases, make fliers, inviting the public, our community, to this? Could we say vagina on the air? Would we be boycotted? Would there be outrage?

I didn’t even tell my mother what I was doing.

I had already been an anti-violence advocate for more than ten years. I had accompanied countless sexual assault survivors to hospitals at all hours of the day and night, answered crisis calls, done presentations about all forms of abuse, seen and heard some of the ugliest and most intimate ways that people are abused, mostly by those they knew and trusted and even loved.

And, yet, I was afraid.

Sexuality is as normal and natural as breathing. Yet, it is treated as the most unnatural aspect of humanity – something not to be discussed, something to be avoided and hidden, something to be ashamed of. It is mysterious, but in a frightening way.

How are we ever going to break the silence about sexual abuse and assault if we can’t have an open and honest discussion about sexuality in general? That it’s not only completely normal, but that sexuality is a fulfilling and important part of our human experience. Yet we have almost no honest, real, engaged, and compassionate language to discuss it.

How we portray sexuality to young people is equally frightening. Instead of focusing on the fact that sexuality is part of the experience of being alive in the world, instead of showing young people how to engage in positive and empowering conversations about what it means to have a healthy relationship based on trust, respect, open communication, honesty, and yes, how sex and sexual contact will or will not be a part of their lives, we mystify and ignore it or we demonize it. All of our messaging about human sexuality is negative: you better not get pregnant, you better not get anyone pregnant, don’t have sex before marriage, don’t have sex or you’ll get a disease, bring dishonor on the family, ruin your life, etc.

It’s a mess. And yet this strained and corrosive relationship we have to human sexuality has real consequences.

One in six women will be the victim of an attempted or completed sexual assault in her lifetime in this country. Over 85% of the time, it’s by someone they know and trust. And, most of the time, the victim will be blamed – what did you do to provoke it, what were you wearing, what did you say, why were you there so late? Even more devastating, victims of sexual assault are shamed into silence.

It’s time that this shameful victim blaming stop. It’s time that victims of sexual abuse and assault are supported and believed, not judged and blamed. It’s time that we as a community stand up and say – Ni Una Mas – Not one more.

I went on to help produce Los Monólogos de la Vagina for another six years. And, happily, about three years into it, my mother asked me one day if I had ever heard of this wonderful play by this woman about the vagina? I could only smile and say I had.

I am still an anti-violence advocate and I still help those hurt and traumatized by sexual abuse.

And, I am proud of my work, proud of my contributions, proud of my ability to break the silence. April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month and it is a great opportunity to learn more about the important efforts of local groups in your area who work tirelessly to put an end to sexual violence. There are many ways, large and small, that you can be a part of this work. I encourage you to get involved. Visit the Southern Arizona Center Against Sexual Assault website at for more information.

Hasta Que la Violencia Termine – Until the Violence Stops.

Visit for more information on the Southern Arizona Center Against Sexual Assault (SACASA), a member of Arizona’s Children Association family of agencies.

If you or someone you know needs help, call SACASA’s 24 hr bilingual crisis line: 1-800-400-1001 – anonymous and confidential