Difference Makers - Ana Mendoza and Maria Elizalde

Posted on August 30, 2017

Eagle River Youth Coalition Who better to learn parenting tips, techniques and strategies from than parents who have been specifically trained in just that? Two passionate parents - Ana Mendoza and Maria "Mayte" Elizalde - have, for the past ten years, helped parents tackle tough topics for teens. The duo, whose day jobs are with Eagle County's Early Head Start, teaches ERYC's Active Parenting and Families in Action classes two to three times a year. Every time it is offered, the class fills up with Spanish speaking parents eager to learn how to make home life better: better communication, less arguing and more working together.

"I've been doing this for ten years. I enjoy the work I do. We work for Eagle County as educators, we know the community really needs this class," says Mayte, a mother to two grown children. These classes made a significant difference in how they communicated with their kids.

The Active Parenting of Teens and Families in Action classes follow a set curriculum but the three topics Ana and Mayte see as the most important are sex, drugs, alcohol and violence.

"They have different tools to talk with teens but it doesn't work for them," shares Mayte, "After parents take the class they have good tools to talk about sex and drugs, and they know it works better statistically."

Being open and honest is the best way to talk to kids, but many of us have a hard time. Instead of using a euphemism, be clear. They share that a parent might say, "Don't open your legs." What they really mean is don't have sex.

Ana explains they are not only changing how people talk to kids, but they are working to shift a culture. "Other cultures, they don't see the importance to talk about it, then once we are in class, they realize they have to have tough conversations with kids, to talk about the negative effects on a child. If you talk about it, it opens the doors so they come to you."

Being in the class feels like tough love in itself. There is crying, hugging, positive reinforcement and just the knowledge that you are not alone - that everyone is muddling through this parenting thing the best we can.

Ana and Mayte teach the importance of modeling behaviors and praising the good in your child instead of focusing on the bad. They give homework, which the parents willingly complete. For example, they might tell a parent to come back and say what something good their child did last week. Or share something that didn't go right and how they can change it. "Following class, we do activities based on what they learn. We brainstorm on what went well and what they can do differently," Ana says. "It's not only about parents, the whole group participates. The whole group is talking about how to help other parents."

Interested in taking a class by this dynamic duo? Reach out to Carol Johnson at ERYC (.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)). Don't be shy: as Ana says, "We have that experience. We tried tools and it worked and it's successful." The next class, Families in Action invites teens to join their parents. They are in separate rooms for instruction, but join together for some exercises. Ana and Mayte are joined by veteran local youth counselors Sara Cross and Michele Barber. The class takes place at Red Canyon High School Edwards Campus and starts Monday, September 11, 5:30-8 pm. There is a nominal registration fee and scholarships are available.

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Eagle River Youth Coalition - Making Youth a Community Priority
Physical Address: 34520 US Highway 6, C10 | Edwards, CO 81632
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 4613 | Edwards, CO 81632
Phone: 970.949.9250 | info@eagleyouth.org
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