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Latinitas group working to create digital magazine

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The non-profit organization Latinitas is working to create the first digital magazine made for Latinas by Latinas.

The organization was all started in Austin as a result of a homework assignment at the University of Texas.

Young Daniella Santiago Martinez knows there's a lot of after school activities to choose from, but she says being a "Latinita" is what helps her dream and plan for her future.

"For now I'm planning to make a video game or be a scientist with chemicals and make medicine," Martinez said.

She can thank the founder of the Latinitas Laura Donnelly Gonzales for that help. It was ten years ago Gonzalez had her own vision to create a digital magazine for Latinas by Latinas.

"There wasn't anything out there that even reflected Latina images that were positive," Gonzales said.

Gonzales saw a niche and filled it. She said like many Latinas, she grew up looking for her face in media.

"Where's the girl with the crazy curly hair? And specifically seeing stories about Latinas that weren't negative about crime or teenage pregnancy," Gonzales said.

The group started with a UT class assignment to create media beneficial to Latinas.

"Girls love technology," Gonzales said. "They geek out on technology and they love media, and media isn't necessarily friendly to girls."

The grassroots effort quickly grew to clubs, camps, and workshops serving more than 20,000 Latinas in Texas .

The program is multi-layered. These very young Latinitas learn from those before them such as college enrolled Latinas who volunteer their time Like Maria Labrado and Luz Angeles.

"Growing up when I was little I didn't have that role model Latina, and I needed that," Labrado said. "Sometimes a lot of things I do I was like risking stuff, and it was trial and error and a lot of times I wish I had that."

"I feel like 4th grade and those surrounding it, I feel is so detrimental to whether you are going to go down that academic path," Angeles said.

There are 25 Latinitas groups meeting in Texas after school programs with mission of empowering young women through media and technology.

Fatima Del Angel has created an app with the help of Latinitas.

"It helps people know where sharks are so they won't be in danger," Angel said.

She hopes her app will help her achieve her dreams.

"I want to save animals when I grow up," Angel said.

"We didn't want them to be just publishers and writers," Gonzales said. "We wanted them to produce videos we wanted them to be able to self-publish and self-broadcast. So we taught them every nut and bolt of how to do that technology."

LINK: Latinitas

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