Walking through the spaces at The Mariposa Center for Girls, you can’t help but be inspired by the art surrounding you. Murals, mosaics, sculptures and colorful signs adorn the property and happy girls are seen dancing, singing, playing instruments, acting, sewing - constantly creating.
Creative expression is a key component of the work that we do to maintain a safe space for girls in the community. It offers them the opportunity to develop skills that support positive social emotional health, helps them identify and manage their feelings, think critically about the world around them and practice self-regulation and care. Creative expression is important for all children, but it’s especially important for girls living in extreme poverty. It empowers them to express the anguish and angst they have with society and direct those feelings to create something spectacular.
Since the pandemic, our girls have not had the opportunity to work with visitors for a few years. It’s been an exciting school year as they were able to do performances in the Fall and Winter! Most recently, they spent five weeks working with musicians, puppeteers and storytellers from Blackspace and Paperhand Puppet Intervention from North Carolina to create a work about coping with difficult situations, finding peace within and achieving a renewed sense of self. The girls wrote original music, designed and made costumes, learned to walk on stilts and produced a spectacular performance about coping with difficult situations, finding peace within and achieving a renewed sense of self.
The project was the focal point of Fall semester programming, aligning with the commemoration of International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and 16 Days of Activism. Exploring difficult topics through art allowed for vulnerable girls to build confidence, strengthen their coping skills and imagine a future where they are equipped to lead the global movement to end violence against women. We had a full house for all three performances and Grammy nominated jazz vocalist Nnenna Freelon joined us for an amazing finale!
It was an incredible experience that our girls, families, visitors and community will remember for years to come. Your generosity continues to help us deliver world class arts programming to The Mariposa Center for Girls - inspiring creativity, increasing confidence and spreading joy to the girls that come to learn and grow in this beautiful space. We can’t thank you enough and we look forward to our next spectacular performance!
The Mariposa DR Foundation recently concluded its annual health fair. This family event is a critical component of our programming and is essential in gathering information and providing necessary services to our girls. This year, our parents were also direct recipients of vital health assessments and learned the importance of a healthy lifestyle along with their daughter.
With a very high participation rate, data was collected for over 100 girls and their parents. During the health fair, our staff and volunteers test hearing, vision, and heart health. Height and weight are noted on a growth chart for each girl. Growth charts are used to compare to other children of the same age. The comparison helps provide early warnings of potential medical complications.
Our toothbrushing program teaches our girls to develop healthy habits to care for their teeth at a young age and sets the stage for good oral health throughout their entire life. During the health fair, all teeth are checked and inquiries are made to make sure our girls are not experiencing any dental pain. Proper dental education and resources are provided to avoid many of the problems that result from poor dental health, including gum disease, cavities, and tooth decay. Untreated pain and infections can lead to problems with eating, speaking, playing, and learning. Necessary education, evaluation, treatment, and transportation for necessary follow-up appointments at the dental clinic are provided to ensure beautiful, HEALTHY, smiles for our girls!
Individual interviews are conducted with every parent to gather information about the family’s living situation and challenges faced. Questions include: access to water and electricity, type of housing, roof condition, transportation availability, languages spoken in the home, number of people in the household, bathroom access, bedrooms and sleeping arrangements, financial support, and parent job stability. This information provides vital insight into the obstacles many of our girls face to fully access educational and extracurricular opportunities. It also allows us to create a plan with families to support them in creating a healthy home environment for their daughters.
A highlight of health week is our parent/daughter yoga session. Our girls practice yoga regularly and the health fair provides an opportunity for them to not only show their parents what they have learned, but it allows parents to experience the benefits of yoga and mindfulness themselves!
We are incredibly thankful to all our donors who help provide services instigated by our annual health fair. We all know that a healthy, happy girl has the advantage and through education and empowerment, the sky is the limit!
Oh sweet summer, how we love you! School has come to an end and the Mariposa Center for Girls is buzzing with excitement and fun! Our annual summer camp is something our girls look forward to all year. Activities intentionally engage the girls, teaching teamwork and resiliency, promoting independence, enriching academic acquisition, and encouraging a connection with the beautiful island we call home.
Some highlights of summer include our surf program, biking tours, off site trips to the beach and to the river, music class, learning English from our International volunteers, yoga, tennis, volleyball and swimming- just to name a few!!
The start of summer camp welcomed 19 new Mariposa girls to the center. Ranging in age from 6 to 10, these new girls are filled with awe and excitement, experiencing what Mariposa has to offer for the first time. After an orientation with their parents and a day alone at the center, they have immersed themselves and are thriving right along with the other 120 girls who are attending each day.
Yoandra, who just started attending, is 6 years old. When asked what she thought about being able to start at Mariposa, she said, “It makes me very, very happy and I really like yoga and going in the pool!”
Neimi, age 8, also claims the pool as one of her favorite activities, saying that she “cannot wait to learn how to swim well so that she can surf when she gets bigger!”
One of the most special parts of summer camp is having all of our girls at the center at one time. This also means that we have many sisters that are participating together that usually would not during the school year. Watching them take care of one another and set examples through encouragement and compassion, highlights the essence of what we do. Fabiola, one of our Mariposa Volando’s, has been working at the Mariposa Center for Girls since she graduated last June. Her immense pride over her two younger sisters- Katiana and Rose Mirlanda - is evident daily. She gracefully balances being one of our beloved swim instructors while watching over and encouraging her sisters to engage in everything Mariposa has to offer.
Summer is a time for fun, friends, sun, water, and learning. We are thankful for all these things and so, so thankful for all of our donors who help make our summer program possible!
Spring is in the air and The Mariposa Center for Girls is buzzing with positive energy. We have been extremely busy with deep cleaning, organizing, and giving the Mariposa Center for Girls a refresh as programs are in full swing and visitors return.
We have been working overtime to give some special attention to the areas that needed a little work to make sure that everything is in tip-top shape for the year. Here are just a few of the facility projects that we’ve completed over the past few months:
Our youngest girls have been busy learning tennis, yoga, ballet, chess, cooking, and improving their literacy through our own Mariposa Primeros Lectores Reading Series. Our older girls are learning ocean safety, playing baseball on the traditionally “boy-only” field, updating their resumes, learning modern dance routines, and improving their English. Our girls are dedicated, engaged, and empowered!
Thanks to our hard-working staff and the support of donors like yourself, our center is alive, shining, and home to over 150 Mariposas!
We are thrilled to introduce our most recent project at the Mariposa Center for Girls, the Mariposa Primeros Lectores series!
The literacy work we do at the Mariposa DR Foundation is essential to break the cycle of generational poverty in our community. After years of being unhappy with the options for primeros lectores books due to students not seeing their language and culture represented, the Mariposa team decided it was time to make our own. Thus, the Mariposa Primeros Lectores series was born.
The Mariposa Primeros Lectores series is an innovative, Dominican-centered approach specifically designed for the new reader. Using familiar words makes them fun and easy to read, and students read about things they see in their daily lives.
They are written, designed and created by the growing family of The Mariposa DR Foundation and its supporters. The series is illustrated by Mariposa programs graduate, Detiny Mejia.
Our first edition of the book series includes 10 titles and a matching memory card set. We are working to get 1,000 of the books to the schools in our community and into the hands of new readers!
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