Music Spotlight: Belanova

Spanish pop sensation, Belanova, is a group of  three friends (Denisse, Richie, and Edgar) that met in school in Guadalajara, Mexico and decided to fuse their musical talents and creativity together.  Five albums later they are one of the biggest names in Spanish pop with several awards including a Latin Grammy for “Best Pop album by a Group or Duo.”  The band recently ended their Sueno Electro 2012 Tour with a final show at the Neon Desert Music Festival (NDMF) in El Paso, Texas.  They will be headed back to the studio to have a new album out by the late fall.  They recently collaborated with English DJ, Mark Ronson for a Spanish Coca Cola commercial spot for the London Olympics.  Latinitas was able to score an interview with them at the NDMF and get the scoop on who inspires their music, what they love about their Mexican heritage, and any advice they have for aspiring Latina artists.

Why the name ‘Belanova’?

Bela means beautiful and  a nova is when a star is at it’s shiniest. It’s three friends making music.

What kind of crowd do y’all get in the U.S.?

Fortunately we have gotten a good response from the U.S. fans.

What do you like to listen to when you’re on the road?

We listen to all kinds of music.  Sigu Ros to relax, Die Antwood to dance to, and Pixies or the Beatles which are classics.

Are there other types of music or artists (past or present) that inspire some of your music?

We like all kinds of music both in English and Spanish.  We like 80s, 90s music like Daft Punk, Air, Towa Tei and Cyndi Lauper.  We also like Nicki Minaj.

I read that y’all met in school.  What would your careers have been today had you not been so successful as musicians?

Well, we all like the arts. It is difficult to think in about us not being dedicated to music, but I also like theater and dance. Edgar lkes photography and Richie likes audio production.

Can you tell a story of a crazy fan?

One time after a show when we got in the car, a fan had snuck in and scared us.  All the fan wanted was a picture.

What do y’all think of the Neon Desert Music Festival?

We think NDMF is a great platform for independent and local talent.  It’s similar to Coachella -at one point nobody really knew about it and now its this big festival attended by celebrities and lots of people.  NDMF has the same potential and that it’s exciting to see where this can go. We would definitely come back if invited again.

What’s your favorite part of your Mexican heritage?

Our favorite part is our musical heritage, which has a unique personality.

Any words of encouragement to offer Latinas that aspire to be musical artists someday?

You must always be focused and have confidence in yourself to reach your goals as an artist.  You also need to be disciplined and have lots of patience.


Miss Texas Latina 2012

The newly crowned Miss Texas Latina 2012 is Lizethe Mendoza, a junior at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, New Mexico.  She is majoring in International Business and Government with a minor in French.  She has overcome many challenges such as bullying and credits her single mother upbringing and Latino culture for her strength and morals.  Despite her busy schedule, her belief in a giving heart is reflected in her volunteer work with the University Medical Center and El Paso Children’s Hospital.  She was even able to squeeze in a little time for an interview with Latinitas and tell us what makes her a great role model and why your dreams start with a good education.

How long have you been participating in pageants? I have been participating in pageants for about a year now.

What got you interested in doing pageants? I admired the former Miss New Mexico 2011, Brittany Toll. She was very active in her community. She is also a part of Teach For America organization, which is a program that immerses teachers in low income schools in hopes of giving these children a higher chance of furthering their education. Brittany is my role model and I figured if I could obtain a strong platform like hers, I could give back to my community. The idea and hope of being a positive impact is what drew my attention to the beautiful pageant world.

How has it changed/influenced your life? I believe and have learned that the human heart is at it’s very best when it is giving. I have been more involved in my community and  in charities such as the March of Dimes.

What was going through your mind up until they announced the winner? Oh my goodness, what wasn’t going through my mind!? It felt like when you prepare yourself to jump in a pool of cold water. You hold your breath and brace yourself. I just remember telling myself “This is it, you tried your best, now you can only pray for God’s will.”

How does winning impact your confidence? This pageant was my first time making top. I worked really hard in all areas, especially my fitness. It feels amazing to know hard work truly does pay off.

What was the biggest challenge for you and how did you overcome it? I can’t decide whether it was answering an on stage question.  I just told myself right before, “Be honest, be sincere, and mean whatever it is you say.”

What makes you proud to be Latina? Coming from a single parent home with a beautiful, hard working Latina mother and being raised with morals and with pride in my culture and heritage makes me proud of being a Latina. Latinos come to this country for a brighter future and a better education, and it makes me proud to be part of that group of Latinos.

What makes you a good role model to Latina youth? I believe I am a good role model to my generation of Latinas because I am no where near perfect.  I had weight problems growing up. I was bullied all through elementary, middle school, some of high school, and even on the cheerleading team at a college level. I relate to the issues our youth faces today. I have overcome obstacles where others told me I couldn’t do something and did it anyway. I am a person with drive and compassion which I believe are key traits to be a leader. I have set the example that anyone can do absolutely anything they set their mind to.

What advice would you give to young Latinas as far as pursuing their education and their dreams? Don’t give up! School gets tough but life only gets tougher without a solid plan and a solid education. Your education is key to pursue your dreams. You can do anything, absolutely anything. The sky is NOT the limit… if it was, we wouldn’t have footsteps on the moon.  If you can dream it, the possibilities are endless when you back them up with drive and determination to fulfill them.

Documentary: Miss Representation

The documentary film, Miss Representation by Jennifer Siebel Newsom, will change your life.  Have you ever thought about how much media you take in on a daily basis?  There’s online social media such as Facebook and Twitter, sitcom and reality TV, listening to music, watching movies, and we can’t forget the glossy magazine covers that stare back at you while you wait in line to pay for groceries.  According to the documentary, it all adds up to about 10 hours and 45 minutes of media consumption a day.

Newsom wrote and directed MR after learning that she was pregnant with her first child.  She feared for her future daughter’s emotional stability in a world where she herself admits to struggling with self esteem, eating disorders and body image issues despite being a successful student and athlete. In the documentary, we learn that 53% of 13 year old girls are unhappy with their bodies and that the number increases to 78% by age 17, eating disorders plague 65% of the female population, and rates of depression among girls and women have doubled between 2000-2010.   Newsom wanted to understand why.  What was going on in our American culture that might possibly be contributing to the lack of healthy self esteems and confidence in the female population? She offers viewers an in depth look into the possible culprit- mass media.  The film contends that today’s media is shaping our society and conditioning young girls to measure their worth by their physical appearance rather than by their accomplishments.

It’s difficult to distinguish what’s “real” in the media when the so called ideal image of beauty has become more extreme and impossible to attain with the use of digital altering and air brushing.  Young men are also exposed to these unrealistic images which can lead them to have certain expectations of what girls should look like and judge them more harshly.  Ever notice how female bodies are in constant display everywhere you look?  There’s no shortage of women in bikinis, mini skirts, and low cut tops in the media, whether it be in the latest episode of teenage shows such as Gossip Girl, a new hip hop video, or even the daily news.  The film contends that this objectification makes it nearly impossible for females to be taken seriously in the workplace and in politics.  Even strong female leaders are disrespected on popular talk shows as well as on news coverage.  The focus is put on how they look rather than what they are saying.  By the same token, media coverage of powerful women in politics is minimal when compared to male politicians.  One of the examples shown in the documentary compared the media coverage of former U.S. Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, to current SOH, John Boehner.  In his first four weeks as SOH, he was featured on five magazine covers.  Ms. Pelosi appeared on zero.

Violence and oversexualized content in entertainment and advertising would make you think that something would be done to minimize it.  The question is why hasn’t anyone put a stop to this?  Who’s calling all the shots in media these days?  According to the documentary, men are.  Media today is overwhelmingly run by men.  All the big TV networks such as NBC, FOX, Time Warner and Disney have male CEOs with only a handful of females serving on their boards.  Also, according to the film, women own only 5.8% of all television stations and 6% of radio stations.  Women also make up only 3% of influential positions in media.  At the end of the day, lawmakers and media giants are largely male dominated.

As stated in the beginning of the film, “The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any. -Alice Walker”.  If you take anything away from watching Miss Representation, it is this- we have the power to change this and it starts with you as an individual.  The director closes the documentary by calling on women to join forces and be mentors and role models to each other.  Some tips given are to monitor what you read and watch on television.  ”Turn off the TV,” says one mentor, “one hour can be fun, four hours can be destructive.”  Tabloids and sensational gossip headlines are the kind of reading that bring women down, so don’t buy them.  Be mindful of the things you purchase.  Ask yourself what the motivation behind your purchases are.  Did advertisers convince you that you are not good enough in any way, shape, or form so that you are now willing to spend your hard earned cash on something you were targeted to buy?  Have your own voice heard. Write a letter to the editor to let them know your thoughts on any negatives messages they send about women. Create your own pro-female media wih your own blog. Most importantly, champion other women instead of criticizing and competing with each other.  Because if women don’t stand by and up for each other, nobody else will.

Author: The Pregnancy Project

Why would a teen pretend to be pregnant?  Gaby Rodriguez got a movie and book deal to share her story of how she pretended to be pregnant. If you haven’t already read The Pregnancy Project by Gaby Rodriguez, I suggest you get your happy self down to the nearest library or bookstore and do so!  It’s one of those books that you will read cover to cover without putting it down.  Living in a small town where teen pregnancies are nothing out of the ordinary, Gaby was sick of the low expectations her community has for young girls and the belief that a girl’s “life is over” if she gets pregnant.  For her senior project, Gaby wanted to do something that would make an impact in her community.  She decided to conduct a social experiment in which she would fake a pregnancy for six months and record reactions from friends, teachers and family.  At the end of her senior year, she revealed her secret to her family and the entire student body that she was in fact not pregnant.  Her book documents her experience in faking her pregnancy.  Never in her wildest dreams did she think it would attract such a phenomenal amount of attention that would land her a book and movie deal with the Lifetime Network!  It’s been one year since the big reveal and Latinitas was able to catch up with author Gaby Rodriguez to see how her life has changed and what she’s currently up to these days.

What were your reasons behind faking your pregnancy?
“I wanted to fake my own pregnancy because being in a family with teen mothers and also seeing it an issue in my school and community, I wanted to bring awareness about sex education but also be that voice for teens who were told they weren’t going to do anything with their life.”
Why was faking a pregnancy important to you?
“Faking my own pregnancy was important to me because I felt that it would be something more real for my peers and community members around me rather than just surveying other teen moms or evaluating the teen shows already out there.”
What do you think young Latinas can learn from the project and the book?
I believe that Latinas can learn that no matter what we as a culture are stereotyped as we can overcome anything and fight for our goals. We can be united together not only to improve our future, but also the future of so many around us.
Do you feel the project made an impact? Why or why not?
“I do believe my project made a huge impact not only in my school, but also in the outer community. I believe this because of being able to hear so many stories of people who learned from my project and who have been impacted by my story.”

How has life changed since the big reveal?
“I don’t think life is ever going to be normal again.  I still do some speaking at conferences regarding the book.  I still get so many people Facebooking, messaging and emailing me telling me what they were able to learn from it.  I even got a letter from a middle school where the students were required to read [my] book.  So I don’t think life will ever be quite the same.”

What’s the best part about that?
“I get to reach out to so many different audiences and get their perspective on the book and everything that they were able to learn from it.”

Did this project change your relationship with your family?
“The relationship with my brothers and sisters pretty much stayed the same.  We occasionally keep up with each other, especially with me being away.  Me and my mom are strong as always and I try to go down every weekend and visit her.  So it’s pretty much the same.”

Do you still keep in touch with your best friend, Saida?
“We still keep in touch, but we both went an hour in opposite directions of our hometown.  We try to keep in contact through Facebook and  keep each other updated.”

Tell us about school.  Are you liking college?
“I do like it, a lot.  I go to Columbia Basin College and am majoring in Psychology. I will be here two years and then transfer to Washington State University in Pullman. There’s so many opportunities.  You just have to inform yourself because there are so many different things you can get more involved in than you ever could in high school.”

What made you pick that major?
“The topic of the human mind intrigues me so much.  I’ve always been interested in sciences and understanding and interacting with humans.  Doing the project gave me so much more insight into the field.  I love my classes.

What do you do for fun?
“I hang out with friends and family.  I try to keep that connection with my family strong.”

Any volunteering or organizations that you are involved in at your university?
“I’m currently a member of the Latino Culture Club where we embrace the roots of the Latino culture.  We do events like blood drives.  We are currently planning an event for Cinco de Mayo.  We incorporate that with volunteer work and engaging the community into the different events that we plan.”

What are your plans for the future beyond college?
“I plan on pursuing my doctorate degree in Psychology, but am still deciding on whether I want to pursue a career in Child Psychology or Forensic Psychology.  I’m exploring my options.”

What’s your favorite book?
“I have a couple of favorites.  All the series that Ellen Hopkins writes like Burned, Impulse, Crank, and Glass.  I haven’t had a chance to read her latest books but they’re on my list.  Also, A Child Called It by Dave Pelzer.  Getting the quote from him on the back cover of my book was absolutely amazing.”

How would you describe yourself in three words?
“I’m outgoing, I take initiative in what needs to be done, I’m appreciative of life and everything it has given me.”

Favorite place in the whole wide world and why?
“Texas.  Just for the fact that a lot of my family originates in Texas and I enjoy my family roots and the environment.  My mom always wants to go so I hope in the future I can provide more trips for her.”

Who is your hero and why?
“It would absolutely be my mom. Just because she is such a strong woman, she has been through so much in her life and she still continues each and everyday with the brightest outlook on life.  And going through what she’s gone through, it’s amazing to me and I try to have that same outlook no matter what I go through in my life.”

What makes you proud to be a Latina?
“Everything.  No matter what brings us down in this life, Latinas fight for what we want in life.  We fight for our goals, we have so many strong Latinos across the culture that embrace the culture and fight for our dreams.”

What advice would you give to young Latinas?
“Never give up on your dreams.  You can push forward and amount to anything you put your mind to. The overall message I want to communicate is no matter the circumstance we have to embrace the help around us and fight for our goals because as Latinas we are strong women that can change the world.”

Fashion: Eco-Friendly Accessories

 

What would you say if we told you that a fabulous pair of earrings or brilliant hair piece was sitting in your trash can at this very moment?  Before you run over to check your garbage for anything you may have accidentally tossed, can you remember throwing anything away that may have been recyclable- candy wrapper, an old magazine issue or an empty coke can?  Now what if we told you that these items could have been used to make your own personalized jewelry pieces?

These young ladies had the opportunity to learn about upcycling, the process of converting waste materials into new, useable products.  Some of the items created were a hair bow made out of a wrapper, a bracelet made out of magazine cutouts, and some earrings made out of multi-colored buttons.  It taught them to be more environmentally-conscious as well as tap into their imaginations to create some one of a kind pieces.

“It keeps trash from going into landfills and it’s a unique way to be creative.”
-Giselle Castaneda, age 12

“It’s creative for us.  It’s a unique piece.  What would you have done with it? Just thrown it in the trash?  Instead, you can use it.”
-Daniela Sanchez, age 18

“I think it’s creative even though you don’t have to be like everybody else.  It’s a fun way I guess to relieve stress.  It’s really cool.”
-Jessie Barron, age 16

“It helps people understand that upcycling is way better than buying stuff.”
-Marlett Mojica, age 16

5 Ways to Boost Your Self Esteem

1. Volunteer
Why volunteer?  Well, it makes you feel good AND it makes you look good.  Have you ever done a good deed that made you feel all warm and fuzzy inside?  When you volunteer, someone is counting on you for something.  It makes us feel good when we are needed and when we make a difference.  On the plus side, volunteering is a great way to build your resume!  In the future ,when you apply for college or a job, you will have valuable “real life” experience.  According to ChildTrendsDataBank.org, youth who plan to complete college are much more likely to volunteer at least once a month compared with other youth.

2. Work Your Body
According to the Center for Disease Control, regular physical activity increases self-esteem, among several other benefits.  So bllast your favorite song and dance like no one’s watching, take your dog for a walk around your neighborhood, go to that Zumba class you’ve secretly been wanting to try out, or go to the park and play on the monkey bars!  The goal is to get up, get out and move your body!  It’s the best and most instant pick-me-up there is!

3. Read a Book & Be a Smarty Pants
A good book is a great way to escape your world and enter someone else’s and it’s a bittersweet feeling when you reach the end of a story.  You don’t want it to end, but it feels good to turn that last page and close the book.  The National Endowment for the Arts says that on average, Americans ages 15 to 24 spend almost two hours a day watching TV, and only seven minutes of their daily leisure time on reading.  Being a couch potato does nothing for your self esteem, but being well read gives you confidence because you speak and write better.  It gives you a whole new perspective on the world and you may find yourself joining a conversation on a bestseller or connecting with another person on a classic.

4. Celebrate You
A girl’s self esteem peaks at 9 years old according to Heartofleadership.com.  More than 90 percent of girls  between the ages of 15 to 17 years want to change at least one aspect of their physical appearance, with body weight ranking the highest.  Nothing good will ever come from putting yourself down.  You determine how others will perceive you with your very own words and actions. Think and speak positive words about you.  Take out a pen and paper and write down what you like about yourself.  Leave a sticky note on your mirror that greets you with kind words.  Keep reminding yourself about how wonderful you are and you will feel better about yourself.

5. Inspire yourself
Make a “boost book” that celebrates your ambitions.  Decorate it and keep track of inspiring quotes.  Collect favorite pictures and mementos in it.  Then, you can refer back to it on those days when you’re feeling a little insecure.  It will remind you that your best days are still ahead of you and dreaming big will keep you excited and eager for the future!

College: Staying vs. Going Away

To go away for college or to stay local, that is the question.  Some of us could answer it in a heartbeat depending on whether we’re

Latina college student looking to start over somewhere new, or prefer to spend our college days living in the comfort of our own homes.  For some of us, we aren’t quite as sure which option is better.  Maybe you’ve been offered a full ride scholarship in your hometown, but have always wanted to venture out of state or maybe you’ve scored a scholarship somewhere.  It’s a big decision that can determine the rest of your life (no pressure), so we got some current college students and recent graduates to share what their experience was after committing to a location in order to help you.  You’re welcome.

BENEFITS OF STAYING HOME
Let’s start with one of the biggest benefits of staying home for college.  It can be helpful to have the convenience of continuing to live at home, rent-free and not worrying about moving your entire life to a dormitory in a new city.  This is quite beneficial if you’re long term goal is to save some dinero.

Angelica, a student at Cal State Fullerton University, started at a local community college and shares, “I’m getting my [Bachelor's] at a local state college….because it was cheaper….and it allowed me to live at home and save some money.”

Another bonus of staying home is that you get to stay close to friends (at least the ones that also chose to stay) and family.  ”I definitely think that when you stay local, you have a stronger support from your friends and family because they’re literally one call away” says Maryella, 19 from Texas.

Although she sees the financial benefit of staying home, Angelica also says, “while I do like being close to my family, I do want to experience life beyond my little bubble and try out what it’s like to be out on my own. I think…it pays to be a little worldly…but in the end a lot of it has to do with what you can afford and the amount of work you are willing to put into it that makes the experience worthwhile.”

BENEFITS OF LEAVING HOME
Leaving home and starting over in a new city can be quite intimidating but it also challenges you to make new friends.  ”When I was younger, my father was an active-duty military member and I was used to moving around the country,” shares recent Northwestern University grad, Cathy.  “To me, college was just another adventure.  But prior to college, I had a very hard time making friends. I blame it on a combination of moving every three years and my generally introverted personality.  The single most important part of my college experience was forcing myself to….learn how to make friends. If I had attended a college closer to home and lived with my parents, I would have missed out on the most important emotional growing period of my life.”

It may take time to establish a support network of friends but eventually you get the hang of it.  Maryella eventually decided to leave home for college in order to set an example for her younger brother.  ”No one from my high school was going where I was, so I was definitely nervous. But within a week of being in a new city, I met a few people and I didn’t feel alone anymore. My homesickness subsided, and I was having fun going to college far from my home and family….when you go to college far from home, you gain a greater sense of independence. You’re friends and family will still be there, but you’re ultimately testing your own abilities to make it.”

Chica Who Care: Isabel Rivera

Ever visited your local rescue shelter for homeless pets?  It’s downright impossible for your heart not to melt at the site of a wide-eyed puppy or kitty staring back at you from behind a cage. The sad truth is that an overwhelmingly high number of homeless pets are put to sleep on a daily basis across the nation.  Their heartwarming little faces, unfortunately, are not enough to save them.  The good news is, you can help!  One volunteer shares how she got involved in the “saving lives” cause with her local Humane Society and how it totally changed the direction of her life!

Full Name: Isabel Rivera

Age: 15

School: Transmountain Early College High School, El Paso, Texas

Organization: Humane Society of El Paso

What is the Humane Society? Tell us about the organization:

The Humane Society is a nonprofit organization with a small dedicated staff and large amount of dedicated volunteers that help save lives of animals that roam the streets of El Paso.  We give them a second chance at life by rescuing homeless pets that are scheduled to be put to sleep at Animal Services. They also provide other services and enable pet owners to improve pets’ lives through community events and fundraisers.

What made you want to volunteer ?

Two main reasons: First, in order to graduate from my high school you need volunteer hours.  Secondly, I wanted to do more than just meet the requirement.  I wanted to make a difference and stick to the commitment for the rest of my life.  I had heard of the Humane Society, but never actually visited.  On my first visit, I saw how caring and truly dedicated the volunteers and staff were to saving the animals and giving them a new life.  It was inspiring.

What are your responsibilities at the Humane Society? Can you give a description of a typical day?

I volunteer at the offsite adoptions on weekends. The purpose of offsite adoptions is to make adoptable pets more accessible to the public. We take about 14 dogs each time and assist potential adopters in finding the perfect companion.  We educate about the importance of spaying and neutering while trying to get as many adoptions as possible.  We make them understand that the animals also have hearts and are capable of loving.  I also go to the shelter and mentor new volunteers that come on Sundays to help and may not have as much experience.  I am also an Adoption Counselor in which my job is to match potential adopters with the perfect pet.

Tell us about some of the events/fundraisers that you’ve helped out with:

Ohhh! I love this topic because events are fun. I have been volunteering for more than one year now and have participated in several events.  The first one was the Humane Society’s annual Telethon on Channel 7 News.  The program ran for half the day in effort to get donations from viewers as well as showcase adoptable homeless pets. It was my first day volunteering and I had so much fun!  It was great because so many homeless pets were adopted as a result of the event.  Another event was the Dog Fair. All the local animal shelters and rescue leagues were present and we were able to adopt some pets out that day.  The public were able to bring their pets to the event which made it family and pet friendly.  Another big event was the El Paso Marathon where volunteers worked a water station dressed as dogs and cats!  Our goal was to promote the Humane Society and win the “most flamboyant” contest for prize money.  We won third place which was so cool!  It was great to see the tired runners smile at us as we tried to motivate them to keep going.

Why is Humane Society important to you?

I love animals and volunteering helped me make the decision to become a veterinarian.  I am making a difference and I feel a bond with the volunteers and animals (It is bittersweet when they find a forever home). I get involved by educating my community about saving homeless pets’ lives. It changed my life and that was the goal I hoped to achieve if I were to volunteer.  Help is always available for humans, it’s the animals’ turn.

What are your future goals and dreams? How does volunteering  play into your plans for the future?

At first I wanted to be an engineer but volunteering with the Humane Society made me realize I can do something even better- save lives.  I now aspire to be a veterinarian in animal welfare and can’t wait to make saving lives a career!

What advice would you give to our readers who want to get involved and volunteer?

Open your eyes!  Look around for animals roaming the streets that need to be rescued.  Call or go to your local Humane Society or Animal Shelter and find out how you can help.  It’s easy to get involved!  Spread the word around your school about the cause.  Shelters are always in need of supplies.  Start a drive at your school for shelter items.  Ask the shelter if you can set up a donation box at your school.  Stay connected with them in case they need extra volunteers for an event.

Is there any particular pet success story you would like to share with our readers?

A Great Dane mix named Roxy. She was shy and very protective of her space and because of that she was at the Humane Society for two years.  One volunteer named Alex spent a lot of time getting her comfortable with humans.  Over time she finally understood what it meant to be loved.  She finally found a forever home with a family that fell in love with her the moment they saw her.  She was a little scared at first but quickly warmed up to them and they adopted her.  She remains with her forever home to this day which is absolutely wonderful.  I truly believe Alex was the one who helped give Roxy a new life.

Five Ways to Help Homeless Pets

Do you have a passion for helping animals?  Here are five ways you can help our homeless furry friends! According to the American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), five to seven million homeless pets enter animal shelters in our country every year where four million are euthanized, or put to sleep.  Sadly, the majority of destroyed homeless pets were healthy or treatable and would have made excellent companions.  Unfortunately, there are more homeless pets than there are homes, which results in what is known as pet overpopulation.  According to AnimalKind.org, pet overpopulation is the leading killer of cats and dogs in our country.  The good news is that you don’t have to stand by and let it happen!  Follow these steps to help homeless pets.

1. Adopt a homeless animal from your local shelter or rescue group

According to the ASPCA, five out of 10 dogs and seven out of 10 cats in shelters are destroyed simply because there is no one to adopt them.  Why adopt from a shelter when you can shop from a store or breeder?  Well for starters, you save a life!  Adopting a shelter pup makes space for other homeless pets that are scheduled to be euthanized which means you are saving two lives at once- your new furry companion that would have eventually been destroyed and the pet that the adoption made room for.  Opt to adopt and save a life!  Also, shelter pets have already been fixed, microchipped, and vaccinated (store pets have not).  Shelter pets also cost a fraction of what breeders and pet stores charge.

2. Be a responsible pet owner and spay or neuter your pet

According to the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), one cat or dog is euthanized every eight seconds in shelters across the nation.  Some are owner surrendered, others are strays picked up by animal control.  To prevent an accidental or unwanted litter from ending up at a shelter and ultimately put down, the best thing you can do is get your pet spayed or neutered.  This puts a stop to bringing more animals into an already overpopulated world.

3. Report animal cruelty

Animal cruelty is illegal in all 50 states and considered a felony in 46, according to the HSUS.  Be a voice for the voiceless.  The only way to stop animal cruelty the moment you recognize it is to report it to your local animal control agency or police department.  Details such as date, location, and description of people and animals involve are very important.  Pictures, even a cell phone camera photo, are very helpful as well.

4. Volunteer

Animal rescues are always in need of extra helping hands and there are several ways to get involved.  You can foster a pet which in turn keeps shelter space open for other incoming homeless pets.  You can help out at an offsite adoption where volunteers take shelter pets to public places such as a pet supplies store and try to find them good homes.  Shelters are also always needing adoption counselors to help potential adopters new homes.

5. Donate

You don’t have to be making big bucks to donate.  Although monetary donations are always needed and appreciated, shelters usually have a list of items they may need posted on their website.  These needed items include things like blankets, laundry detergent, or office supplies.  You could have a donation drive at your school which will shed some light on a the shelter and possibly result in an adoption! You never know!

Advice to Love Your Body

We asked our readers what tips they have to help other Latinitas love and appreciate their own beauty. Here are their top tips to love your body.

Latina teen posing for a picture

Everybody is beautiful and awesome in their own way.
Don’t feel bad about yourself. Everybody is beautiful and awesome in their own way. Exercise and eat better. This helps in many ways. Think positive thoughts. Take your mind off of it. Put on clothes that make you feel secure..
-Karen, age 13

Don’t let people get you down.
No one should judge. I really don’t care what people call me because I know who I am and what I do.  They’re saying that stuff because they’re jealous.
-Bella, age 14

You are beautiful and you don’t need anybody to tell you that!
The only person that you need to tell you that you are beautiful is you! The one thing that I have learned is that you need to be confident and you need to believe in yourself. It doesn’t matter who tells you, you are ugly or you’re not perfect. Those people do not matter. The person that should tell you what you are and what you’re not is you! Your imperfections are your beauties!! Believe in that!
-Sarah, age 12

Never put yourself down.
First of all, you have to tell yourself that your are beautiful and never let anything or anyone put you down. Always know that you are truly beautiful when you put yourself down and you don’t truly know it. Take this advice and you’ll know you’re truly beautiful when you do.
-Ivonne, age 11

Putting yourself in a positive attitude will make you look beautiful inside and out.
You should feel good about yourself no matter what other people tell you. Who cares what they say. Putting yourself down can really hurt you and will make others not like you.
-Mariah, age 13

Nobody is perfect.
First of all magazines are totally fake. This is what I do, I don’t really care about what others think or say about me.  God made everybody different for a reason. Just be yourself. It does not matter if you’re fat or skinny.
-Stephanie, age 11

You’re uniqueness is what makes you – you.
No matter what, you are pretty. Remember that all those models and superstars aren’t as beautiful as they seem. They need a lot of work done, and still, they have to go through more. All of our imperfections and flaws are wonderful. There’s no such thing as perfection. And trust me, everyone is insecure at one point or another. It’s just part of being human. But never forget to love yourself for who you are.

You shouldn’t change anything about yourself.
You’re beautiful on the inside and outside. Don’t let people say, “hey you’re ugly, go get a makeover.” No, no, no, you should feel comfortable how you look and feel.
-Bella, 14

Just be proud of who you are and how you look.
If you don’t like your hair, curl it or get highlights.  Because every girl in the universe is unique. They have their different styles. It doesn’t matter how you look because you’re beautiful on the inside and outside.
-Elena, age 11

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