August 22, 2003

The complex issues teens face in developing healthy relationships are portrayed in !UBICATE! (Find Yourself!), the first Spanish language educational film on Latino teen relationships, that debuted here today. Community leaders and educators attended a premiere hosted by Verizon Wireless, a major underwriter of production and marketing for the film.

Developed by Casa de Esperanza, a local nonprofit domestic violence agency run by Latinos for Latinos, the film is the first of its kind to be produced in the United States. The 17-minute film addresses the complex, yet common issues young Latinos face in developing healthy relationships. "Because of Verizon Wireless' support, we are able to create awareness about this project that will begin a dialogue within the Latino community, and among Latino teens, to improve their relationships," said Lupe Serrano, executive director of Casa de Esperanza.

"Our research showed that there is no Spanish-language film specifically geared to facilitate youth discussion on these issues," Serrano said. "We developed the film with input from Latino teens in our local after-school programs about the issues they face, from dealing with dating violence to communicating with parents and gender roles within families." The principal actors represent young Latinos from the Twin Cities, including students from Casa de Esperanza's after-school youth programs.

As the Latino population has tripled in the last decade(1), the unique challenges facing Latino youth also have grown. Since 1994, nationally Latino teens have had the highest teen birth rate in the nation at 97.4 per 1,000, nearly double the national rate of 52.3 per 1,000(2). The Latino dropout rate is 2.5 times the rate for African Americans and 3.5 times the rate for non-Latino whites(3). Closer to home, more than 40 percent of Latino children in Minnesota live in poverty(4).

Verizon Wireless, a corporate supporter of programs that help prevent domestic violence, is providing $35,000 through its exclusive HopeLine(SM) program, to support production and marketing efforts for !UBICATE!. Verizon Wireless also has underwritten costs to send the film to 100 Latino organizations, schools and domestic violence organizations throughout Minnesota. Casa de Esperanza staff will facilitate two youth forums, sponsored by Verizon Wireless, where !UBICATE! will be shown and discussed with Latino youth. The forums will be held Oct. 23 at El Colegio Charter High School in Minneapolis and in St. Paul next spring. A grant from the General Mills Foundation also helped underwrite the production costs.

"!UBICATE! is designed to reach Latino teenagers with important messages about their family, peer and dating relationships," said Viki L. Radden, president -- Great Plains Region, Verizon Wireless. "Verizon Wireless is fully
committed to combating domestic violence, and we believe that !UBICATE! will provide a valuable and much-needed tool for educators to use with Latino teens."

The film begins with a discussion with Latino teens about relationships in their lives. Four scenes depict the complex, yet typical issues facing Latino youth: a young Latina teen who is in an abusive relationship and thinks she might be pregnant; the conflict between brother and sister in a family with underlying gender role sexism; the cultural divide between a Latino teen and his parents; and a teen struggling with issues at home and at school who turns to friends with risky behavior. A final scene, "Haz la diferencia!" (Make a difference!), underscores how teens can help support and educate one another.

!UBICATE! was created through the leadership of Casa de Esperanza staff members Patricia Tototzintle, executive producer, and Carmen Gonzalez and Claudia Pineda, co-producers and scriptwriters. A student volunteer in Casa de Esperanza's youth program, Pablo Lopez, served as an associate producer, scriptwriter and actor. The cast includes professional and non-professional actors from a variety of Latin American backgrounds to depict the diversity within Latino cultures. A student at El Colegio High School, Jessica Guzman, created the artwork concept used to market !UBICATE!. Original songs by local musicians Onan Barrera and the team of Nachito and Mirdalys Herrera are featured in a score overseen by Dr. Bob Stacke of Augsburg College.

!UBICATE! will be marketed throughout the United States, Mexico, Central and South America by Casa de Esperanza.

For more information at http://www.casadeesperanza.org

(1) Hennepin County Census Data, September 25, 2001.
(2) National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, 1999. "Teen Pregnancy and Childbearing among Latinos in the United States," http://www.teenpregnancy.org/fact_latam.htm. Accessed: October 24, 2001.
(3) Secada Walter G., Rudolfo Chavez-Chavez, Eugene Garcia, Ciprano Munoz, Jannie Oakes, Isaura Santiago-Santiago, and Robert Slavin. 1998. No More Excuses: The Final Report of the Hispanic Dropout Project. Washington D.C.: U.S. Department of Education.
(4) U.S. Bureau of the Census, 2000. Current Populations Survey.
Washington D.C.: Government Printing Office

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