‘Latinas in Motion’ Founder Encourages Healthy Habits Through Running

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On a June afternoon in late 2012, Elaine Gonzalez Johnson, frustrated by running alone, sent a text to every woman in her phone and launched a nationwide movement.

‘I’m going to run two-and-a-half miles on Saturday at 7 AM,’ it read. ‘Will you join me?’

A month earlier, Johnson — now a 30-year-old full-time program manager in the Philadelphia school district — had stood at the starting line of her first-ever race, Philadelphia’s Broad Street Run, which touts itself as the largest 10-mile race in the country. Despite being in a crowd of over 35,000 fellow runners, she felt alone. “I didn’t see anybody who looked like me,” Johnson said. “There was such a lack of Latinas at this particular race.”

Johnson’s initial impression was not far off from the truth: despite their status as the country’s largest racial or ethnic minority, at 17.6% of the nation’s total population, Hispanics make up only a small portion of runners nationwide. In 2016, only 6 percent of overall runners surveyed identified as Hispanic, according to RunningUSA, a not-for-profit organization launched in 1999 which tracks developments in the sport through annual surveys and reports. And for women runners, the figures are even bleaker: barely 5 percent of female runners surveyed by the organization in 2014 identified as Hispanic.


Within weeks after the Broad Street Run, Johnson decided to take matters into her own hands. In June, a few days after she texted all the women she knew, six women showed up to meet her for an early morning two-and-a-half mile run at Abraham Lincoln High School in northeast Philadelphia. The group began to grow every week. And by August of that year, a chapter had sprung up in New Jersey. Latinas in Motion was born.

Almost five years later, the group boasts 4,000 members in 17 chapters across 14 states and in Puerto Rico, where Johnson’s family hails from. And Johnson has become the face of the movement, appearing on the cover of Women’s Running magazine last June.

Continue onto NBC News to read more about Latinas in Motion.

Spanish-speaking SoCal residents can now enjoy the FREE comedic and educational “SoCal Yard Transformation” guide

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picture of a yard resource book in Spanish

Riverside, CA – Western Municipal Water District’s (Western) new handbook, the SoCal Yard Transformation guide, is now available in Spanish. The landscaping guide is free and available to Western customers, as well residents throughout the Santa Ana Watershed. 

The Spanish version was developed in response to the more than 1.5 million Hispanic/Latino residents in the watershed region.

This landscaping guide offers full-color illustrations, and covers topics such as water, planning, soil, planting, utilizing native plants, irrigation, and sustainability. It was written by experts in an easy-to-understand manner and includes a dose of humor. Assisting local homeowners to strive for sustainable water use, the SoCal Yard Transformation English and Spanish versions provide important recommendations on how to create permanent water-saving landscape changes. With California’s cyclical drought conditions, homeowners now have a helpful guide to adapt their yard to be water wise.

“With such a significant demographic of Spanish-speaking residents within the Santa Ana Watershed, we wanted to provide a version of the book for those who prefer to read in Spanish. We want our Spanish-speaking residents to know that upgrading their landscape doesn’t have to be expensive or troubling, but rather it can be fun and rewarding in surprising ways,” said Pam Pavela, Western’s water resources specialist, handbook editor and co-author. “Adjusting your home’s landscape can increase your property value and save money on your water bill.”
SoCal Yard Transformation’s seven simple chapters break down everything that homeowners need to know to create a lasting transformation:

  • Water: Where it comes from, how it gets to the tap, and the true cost to the customer
  • Planning: A simple guide on how to design a water-efficient landscape
  • Soil: The foundation of all landscapes, and the life it contains
  • Planting: The who, what, where, when and why of planting and care of plants
  • Natives: Why these plants are important
  • Irrigation: How to irrigate efficiently, covering topics such as scheduling, troubleshooting, and how to make improvements
  • Sustainability: Creating a holistic, long-term landscape

The book was made possible by the Safe Drinking Water, Water Quality, and Supply, Flood Control, River and Coastal Protection Bond Act of 2006 (Proposition 84). The handbook can be picked up at Western’s office at 14205 Meridian Parkway in Riverside. For more information, or to request your own copy, please call 951.571.7100 or visit wmwd.com and search “SoCal Yard Guide”.

Latina music exec behind Maluma, CNCO has new, personal mission: breast cancer awareness

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“We just don’t think it could happen to us, or that it only happens to older women,” said Pablo, who’s 37 and recently battled breast cancer.

Clara Pablo is a music executive who has been “living the dream” when it comes to working with top Latino talent, from Ricky Martin and Shakira to Carlos Vives, CNCO and Maluma.

Yet Pablo, 37, a marketing executive for Walter Kolm Entertainmentand a former Univision director of talent relations, has been involved in her most personal and important campaign to date — spreading the word about the importance of breast self-exams and routine checkups after she was diagnosed and was treated for breast cancer.

Pablo used the power of social media to launch her own campaign, “Te Toca Tocarte,” meaning “it’s time to touch yourself,” inspired by her blogger friend Nalie Augustin’s breast self-examination video “Feel it On the 1st.”

“I wanted to replicate Nalie’s campaign to the Spanish market, and tell women that early detection is key,” Pablo said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cancer is the number one cause of death in Latina women, particularly women under 40.

For Pablo, Latino communities don’t have enough conversation about cancer despite of how much it affects them.

“There’s so much shame, not enough awareness in the Hispanic community. We just don’t think it could happen to us, or that it only happens to older women,” she said. “We have to change the stigma because, yes, it can happen to anyone.”

With positive spirits and over 101K Instagram followers, Pablo has helped raise awareness among Latinos.

The campaign encourages women to put their hand on their breast to do a self-exam, and take and post a photo using the hashtag #TeTocaTocarte on the first of every month and tag others to do the same — hoping to show that self examinations can be simple. The campaign also seeks to encourage women of all ages to get a mammogram, get tested for the hereditary BRCA gene and communicate with others.

Spanish on-air talents such as Evelyn Sicaros, Carolina Sandoval and Clarissa Molina posted selfies in solidarity with the cause. Even Puerto Rican-pop singer Luis Fonsi (“Despacito”) and his wife, supermodel Águeda López, showed support for their good friend during her appointments, even after she finished her radiation.

It was in August of 2017 that Pablo felt a lump on her right breast while watching television.

“I was immediately alarmed,” Pablo said. “I texted my gynecologist, went in to see him the next morning, and within the week I was getting a mammogram and ultrasound,” she told NBC News. “I remember the lady doing the ultrasound, just seeing her face change.”

After a biopsy at the Miami Cancer Institute at Baptist Health South Florida, the doctor told Pablo they had found a stage 1 tumor in her breast. She was diagnosed with invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC), a common type of breast cancer last summer.

“It felt like somebody had just punched me in the gut, really hard,” Pablo recalled.

Although she has two aunts who are cancer survivors, the thought of having breast cancer had not really crossed Pablo’s mind.

Pablo traveled regularly for work and was in the middle of planning a trip to visit her boyfriend’s family in Europe.

“One week, I was planning this trip, and the next, planning how my entire life had suddenly changed,” Pablo said. “The timing of it all was poetic — it showed me your life could change in any second.”

On Oct. 1, 2017, Pablo commemorated the start of Breast Cancer Awareness Month by posting a a photo on Instagram to announce her cancer diagnosis. Within 48 hours, the post went viral.

Continue onto NBC News to read the complete articles.

It’s Cool to be Kind: 5 Cyberbullying Prevention Tips

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Here are 5 cyberbullying prevention tips. Number one is The Golden Rule.

1. The Golden Rule. It’s important to remind ourselves that behind every username and avatar there’s a real person with real feelings. The “golden rule” is just as important online as it is in real life. Kids can take the high road by applying the concept of “treat others as you would like to be treated” to their actions online, creating positive impact for others and disempowering bullying behavior.

2. Promote Kindness. It’s important to teach kindness. But it’s just as important to model the lessons of kindness that we teach. How you and your friends treat each other online can model behavior for younger generations. Respect others’ differences and use the power of the Internet to spread positivity.

3. Move from bystander to upstander. Often kids want to help out a target of bullying but don’t know what to do. According to StopBullying.gov, only 20-30 percent of students notify adults about bullying. Encourage kids to speak up against and report online bullying. If they find themselves a bystander when harassment or bullying happens, they have the power to intervene and report cruel behavior. Kids can choose to be an upstander by deciding not to support mean behavior and standing up for kindness and positivity.

4. Turn negative to positive. Kids are exposed to all kinds of online content, some of it with negative messages that promote bad behavior. Teach your kids that they can respond to negative emotions in constructive ways by rephrasing or reframing unfriendly comments and becoming more aware of tone in our online communication. Reacting to something negative with something positive can lead to a more fun and interesting conversation – which is a lot better than working to clean up a mess created by an unkind comment.

5. Mind Your Tone. Messages sent via chat and text can be interpreted differently than they would in person or over the phone. Encourage kids to think about a time that they were misunderstood in text. For example, have they ever texted a joke and their friend thought they were being serious – or even mean? It can be hard to understand how someone is really feeling when you’re reading a text. Be sure you choose the right tool for your next communication – and that you don’t read too much into things that people say to you online. If you are unsure what the other person meant, find out by talking with them in person or on the phone

Supporting teachers and their classrooms:
Google has teamed up with DonorsChoose.org, a nonprofit with a web platform that is part matchmaker, part Scholastic Fairy Godmother. Teachers post their school project wishes on the platform and people like you—or companies like us—find projects we’d love to sponsor. With DonorsChoose.org, Google has built a $1 million Classroom Rewards program to encourage and celebrate classroom achievement with Be Internet Awesome. Upon completion of the program, K-6 teachers can unlock a $100 credit towards their DonorsChoose.org project. Teachers can kick off the Be Internet Awesome lessons with one called #ItsCoolToBeKind. 💚 Check out the details on DonorsChoose.

Be Internet Awesome is Google’s free, digital citizenship and online safety program that teaches kids the skills they need to be safe and smart online. Parents can find additional resources in English, Spanish and Portuguese, such as downloadable materials for the home at g.co/BeInternetAwesome.

Latino Baseball Players Build Their Brand Through La Vida Baseball

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In Latino countries such as Mexico, Venezuela, and the Dominican Republic, baseball is king.  Kids grow up playing it, and the chosen ones who live out a dream to play in the Major Leagues, become icons.

In America, those players play in a foreign country.  They face challenges such as language barriers and the hardship of playing far away from home.

Throughout history, Latino players have become iconic stars.  In the 1960’s it was Roberto Clemente. Recently, David “Big Papi” Ortiz has been an icon both in the U.S. and in their home countries.

La Vida Baseball is here to raise the profile of these Latin players, and grow their brand in the social media age.

“Baseball throughout the Caribbean region, throughout Venezuela, northern parts of Colombia, is something that connects Latinos across nations, even as we take great pride in the work of those players from our own homelands and countries,” said Adrian Burgos, editor in chief of La Vida Baseball. “There are these moments of transcendence. For example, seeing a Francisco Lindor, who leaves Puerto Rico as a teenager for Florida and when he returns and hits that Home Run, the roar of the crowd is a roar that was so much about connection across a generation. It is similar to those Cubans who see the success of the Gurriel brothers and of Puig and Cespedes. Whether they’re on the island or they’re in the U.S., they take pride, ‘That’s one of us.’”

La Vida Baseball is a website that runs features on Latin stars. The site also profiles future stars. They also do not shy away from issues of prejudice and any other stories that would pertain to a Latin player or be of interest to fans of said players.

“The goal of La Vida baseball is to serve what we believe is an underserved market and create a sense of community for the Latino baseball fan by celebrating baseball,” said Jay Sharman, creator, and CEO of La Vida Baseball. “Creating that nexus of baseball culture and identity. We just saw that there was just an unmet need there and it seemed logical to all of us that it wasn’t being served and that we could engage a critical mass of fans around subject matter that they cared deeply about. If you can do that, there’s usually business that follows.”

The website does run ads and is a business.  The question though, is how does La Vida Baseball properly measure success? If people love Jose Altuve of the Astros, does that mean the mission statement is working?

For us, we look at engagement,” said Sharman. “If you step back and look at the digital media publishing landscape right now, there’s still a lot of lip service given to the size of audience or size of followers and things like that. We are really about people engaging with the content consistently on a daily basis. Whether it’s Javier Baez or Jose Altuve, what we want to do is find an angle on what’s going on in the baseball world that isn’t being covered by the major sports media companies. That tends to be the human interest stories, at that intersection of culture and Latino baseball.”

La Vida Baseball is in partnership with the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Storytelling is what the Hall does best, and they can help with the production of content.

“There are multiple ways that we measure our success,” said Burgos. “We do look at our social media follows on Facebook and on Twitter and on Instagram and how our audience is growing that way. But another measure of success is, we look to see how the players themselves are engaging our content. Are teams sharing our content? We will always produce quality work, but do the players find it compelling?”

Burgos added, “ A few weeks back, we posted a graphic of Yadier Molina with the Puerto Rican flag as a backdrop. And Yadier re-posted that on his Instagram. All these other players were commenting on how beautiful it was. It’s like, one person is like, “Who did that?” And it’s like, it’s La Vida (Baseball). Part of how we measure our success is both by the audience and also knowing, that the players make time to share our work, to sit with us, to talk with us and help them tell their stories.

Continue onto Forbes to read the complete article.

Rizos Curls’ Julissa Prado Shares How Her Latino Upbringing Taught Her Essential Entrepreneurial Skills

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With her enviable mane of bouncy, pink-hued curls, Julissa Prado serves as a walking advertisement for the effectiveness of her products. Roughly one year ago, she officially launched Rizos Curls, an all-natural product line for curly-textured hair. In that short span of time, Prado has amassed 52k+ followers on Instagram, received up to a thousand orders per month, and quit her job to pursue her business full time. But though it might look like overnight success from the outside, her growing business is the result of many years of hard work and hard-earned lessons.

As Prado tells it, she couldn’t have reached this point without the help and support of her family and her larger Latino community, who served as the inspiration for her brand. “I always thought when I made Rizos Curls that I’d make something that would work perfectly for textures as diverse as those of my family’s. In the Latino community we have so many kinds of hair textures – wavy, curly ringlets, coily textures. I have tías that fall under all of those categories. I wanted to make something that allowed us to fall in love with our natural hair,” she explains.

For Prado, Rizos Curls has been a family affair – from consulting with her brother on her business plan, to running her fledgling company out of her parents’ and uncle’s houses, to learning key lessons about how to budget & save from watching her own father run his restaurant business.

Below, she explains how her upbringing helped her develop her entrepreneurial spirit and the skills to build a DIY business.

Your company is directly inspired by the Latino community – can you talk about how the idea came about?

I grew up in very predominantly Latino communities and neighborhoods [in Los Angeles]. I have a huge family, and when we were very young we all lived in one apartment building. Almost every unit was a different family member, so that can give you an idea of the culture and the environment that I grew up in. Growing up, I always saw how so much of my community had textured hair – they had wavy, curly, coily hair, a variety of textures. But they went to great lengths to straighten it, and not embrace it. There was a lot of self-hate around their hair. There was always this notion of ‘your hair is not done until it’s not curly.’

I remember the exact moment where I realized “Oh no, I can’t do this my whole life.” I was going to a quinceañera and my older cousins straightened my hair. Back then, in the hood, we didn’t have flat irons yet, so what they did was put my head over an ironing board and use a clothes iron. My hair was burning! I remember being over that ironing board and thinking “We’ve got to do better than this, we’ve got to figure out a way to feel good about our natural hair.”

So that’s where the idea first started. Even at a young age, I was aware that so many of my insecurities were connected to my inability to embrace my natural hair and myself in my natural state. Once I learned to love my hair it allowed me to love myself, and I wanted to create that feeling in my community. Rizos Curls is not just about the products. We’re a trifecta of the Three Cs: curls, community & culture.

What pushed you to make the leap and turn this interest into a career?

I’m very close to my [older] brother, and he’s the one who helps me a lot with Rizos. We’re very opposite. I’ve always led with my heart and emotion, and he’s ruled by logic. So when I decided I really wanted to go forward with this Rizos idea, I went to my brother with my business plan. I was still pretty young, around 15, and I presented the whole plan to him. He did all this market research – which years later, in business school, I learned is very important when you’re starting something new. Understanding your market, understanding the size of the demographic you’re targeting. He did that research on his own and was blown away. He couldn’t believe a product like Rizos Curls didn’t exist already.

Time passed, I went to college and grad school, and everything I learned, all the business acumen I acquired, all reaffirmed that I had to take this leap. Everything pointed me to, “You’re lucky no one’s jumped on this opportunity yet.” But it took me four years to figure out my product formulas, and I beat myself up a lot for taking so long. I was juggling it with getting a masters, working a full-time job, and maybe I just needed to trust the process. There were many times in that four year process of testing formulas that I didn’t get the results I wanted, and felt like giving up.

Continue onto Remezcla to read the complete article.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month: What to know about the latest developments in breast cancer research, treatment and prevention

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Breast Cancer Awareness Month kicks off on Monday.

Often associated with pink ribbons and 5K walks, the movement has been wildly popular: National Cancer Institute (NCI) funding for breast cancer totaled $520 million in 2016.

The increasing breast cancer awareness comes at a time when women can find substantial improvements in breast cancer treatment.

Here’s what you need to know about the latest developments.

How common is breast cancer?

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, breast cancer is the most common cancer in women (besides skin cancer), and the second most common cause of cancer death in women.

Approximately 266,000 women will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer by the end of 2018.

In 2015, there were an estimated 3.4 million women living with breast cancer.

What you can do

We’ve known for a while that your risk of breast cancer gets lower with some lifestyle changes. Women who exercise, don’t smoke, don’t binge drink, stay a healthy weight after menopause, and use the pill for a shorter number of years have a lower risk.

Breast mammography, although imperfect, has been instrumental in detecting breast cancer when it does occur. Recommendations regarding screening are controversial: the question is the age that screening should begin.

The American College of Radiology (ACR) recommends annual screening starting at age 40, while the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) believes that you should be screened every two years starting at age 50.

The American Cancer Society (ACS) recommends annual screening at age 45, with the option for women to be screened when they’re 40 if they prefer. The differences reflect changing opinions on what age the benefits of screening outweigh the risks.

New to the scene is breast tomosynthesis, a 3-D screening tool that received FDA approval in 2011. Research has shown better cancer detection rates with tomosynthesis, and fewer “false alarms,” when women with no disease are mistakenly called back for further testing.

In patients with dense breast tissue, screening ultrasounds can improve detection rates. In patients with the highest risk of developing breast cancer, screening breast MRIs, in combination with mammography, have been shown to improve survival.

Continue onto ABC News to read the complete article.

4 Tips on Managing Stress at Work

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Job Stress

Everybody feels stress from time to time at work, but it’s important not to let stress control our lives.

Unmanaged stress can lead to short-term problems like headaches, stomach pains, high blood pressure, and a weakened immune system. Long-term stress can lead to serious health conditions like depression, obesity, and heart disease.

Here are our four tips on managing stress:

  1. Keep a journal
    Track your stressors; over a week or two, note what’s setting you off and how you’re responding to those situations. Note your thoughts, feelings, who was involved, where it happened, and what you did in reaction – did you eat an unhealthy sugary lunch, did you have an extra glass of wine at night? Taking notes can help you identify patterns and help you break your stress cycle.
  2. Break unhealthy responses to stress
    If you notice from your journal that you are delving into unhealthy activities to manage your stress – junk food, alcohol, avoidance, too much TV – try replacing those unhealthy responses with healthy ones. Exercise is a fantastic way to manage stress. Join a yoga class, sign up to a gym, or go for regular jogs before work. Exercise releases endorphins and makes you happier; it can also take your mind off your stresses and make you feel productive.

Other good responses include: taking time out to read, playing games with your family, or doing activities with your friends. Set aside time to do activities that bring you pleasure.

  1. Create boundaries for work
    In the smartphone age, it can be easy to feel pressured into being available 24/7 for work. Establish some boundaries: Don’t answer emails at dinner, switch off your phone after 7pm, take time out to not think about your assignments. It’s critical to disconnect from work and let yourself recharge.
  2. Meditate
    It’s crucial that you learn how to relax and center yourself. Try meditating and mindfulness activities. If you can’t go to a class, there are hundreds of quality apps you can download to teach yourself. Start with just a few minutes a day to focus, do deep breathing exercises, and let go. It may seem small, but by simply doing this every day, you can apply this same focus to other parts of your life.

The American Psychological Association has great resources for dealing with stress: apa.org/index.aspx

Source: mygwork.com

‘Jane the Virgin’ Gina Rodriguez is on a mission to help young women — here’s why

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“One of the biggest blessings about being an actor,” said Rodriguez, is a platform that enables you to speak on important matters.

Gina Rodriguez is best known for her award-winning role in “Jane the Virgin,” but the actress, producer and activist has long championed many causes, especially education. Her latest mission is bringing an end to what is known as “period poverty” and its effect on young women’s school attendance and educational opportunities.

Nearly one in five girls in the U.S. have had to miss or leave school because they lacked access to products such as sanitary napkins during their menstrual period, in large part due to economic factors, according to a survey commissioned by Always. Rodriguez partnered with the brand to bring attention to the period poverty epidemic through the #EndPeriodPoverty campaign, which aims to donate 15 million period products to school pantry programs across the U.S.

“Education is the end all, be all. It is the reason I am here today, it is the reason I have had the opportunities that I have had,” said Rodriguez.

Rodriguez recalled how her education shaped her successful artistic journey. During her sophomore year of high school, Rodriguez’s religious studies teacher taught her about the role of the griot, or storyteller, in West African cultures. Had she missed that class, which inspired her to use acting as storytelling, her trajectory may have been very different, said Rodriguez.

The focus on how menstruation can unfortunately limit girls’ and women’s lives around the world — from the lack of products to cultural taboos, has gained traction. Recently Meghan Markle, who earlier this year married Britain’s Prince Harry, brought attention to the issue in India. In the U.S., women are pushing state legislatures to ensure access to products in places like prisons; New York City became the first to require free tampons and sanitary pads in correctional facilities, public schools and homeless shelters.

For Rodriguez, ensuring that young girls in the U.S. have access to products during their periods is doable.

“I want to bridge that gap. I want to end that statistic that we have here in this country. And we are capable of doing this,” she said. “One of the biggest blessings about being an actor is that you’re given a platform that you can speak on things that matter to you,” Rodriguez said.

Continue onto NBC News to read the complete article.

Wilson Cruz: Advocating for LGBTQ+ Youth

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Wilson Cruz and fans

It hasn’t been an easy road to success for actor, activist, or self-proclaimed “actorvist” Wilson Cruz. It was scary to play Ricky Vazquez on My So-Called Life in 1994, one of the first LGBTQ+ characters on television. But Cruz, as he says, “had the benefit of the ignorance of youth” that allowed him to go for the roles where he could represent both of the communities he comes from.

“Every actor has something that they have to work against, and this just happens to be mine,” he said. A true trailblazer, he knew that what he was doing will eventually make it easier for someone else to pursue this career as well.

“There weren’t many openly gay actors of color that I could really look to at that time, and I loved the idea of being able to be that for someone else.” Knowing this helped him enter auditions with the thought that he had an army of people—who he hadn’t even met—rooting for him.

Cruz hasn’t settled with being a trailblazer only television, however. In 2012, he joined GLAAD, an organization dedicated to supporting representation and inclusion of the LGBTQ+ community in media. The work he did with GLAAD made him more practical and less idealistic, though no less passionate about activism. The day-to-day work the organization did was hard and took time but, in the end, a difference was being made. Though he no longer formally works for GLAAD, Cruz still has a role in many of their projects and loves to help when he is needed.

Currently, his activism goals include supporting all minorities and advocating for LGBTQ+ youth. Panel speaking at GLAADCruz feels that there needs to be more unified support across identities. The best way to protect the progress that has been made and continue to move forward is for minorities to stand in solidarity and support each other. He is also passionate about supporting queer youth and making sure they are safe and protected at school. He is on the board of directors for GLSEN, an organization dedicated to making sure K–12 students who are members of the LGBTQ+ community are safe and treated with respect.

Photo: BEVERLY HILLS, CA –  (L-R) GLAAD Director of Entertainment Research and Analysis, Megan Townsend, actors Stephanie Beatriz of ‘Brooklyn Nine-Nine’ and Wilson Cruz of ’13 Reasons Why’ and ‘Star Trek: Discovery,’ creator/executive producer of ‘How to Get Away With Murder’ Peter Nowalk, Lena Waithe of ‘Masters of None,’ and executive producer of ”Wynonna Earp” Emily Andras . (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

Cruz advises youth considering coming out to build a network of support first, to ensure that no young person faces the prospect of being homeless or forced to drop out of school. Before coming out to the people around you, it is important to have an adult you can trust for support because Cruz’s first concern is for the safety and mental health of the community. And, for those who are not aware, he also advises reaching out to the local LGBTQ+ support systems in your area. Many major cities have an LGBTQ+ community center with a youth program and can be found on LGBTCenters.org.

Cruz is also an advocate for Puerto Rico’s relief, particularly as we head into another hurricane season. For his last birthday, he utilized Facebook’s feature for donations and was able to raise $10,000 for the Hispanic Federation in support of Puerto Rico’s hurricane relief. He encourages everyone to consider supporting the efforts and cause.

As an actor, Cruz has made great strides, bringing the first openly gay character to life in the Star Trek series. Most of the time, roles are not written specifically for an LGBTQ+ Latino male, but Cruz considers it his job to convince the casting directors otherwise. He has to give them the option of choosing him and has to show them he is just as powerful, funny, and moving as the person they have in mind, and he enjoys that challenge. Cruz feels that has become the job of creative people of color “to change people’s idea of what’s powerful and what’s funny and what’s beautiful.” It’s not an easy task, but through his career, he has managed to do just that.

Photo: Premiere Of CBS’s “Star Trek: Discovery” – Red Carpet Angeles, California.  (Photo by Todd Williamson/Getty Images)

Moving forward, Cruz has many projects through which he will continue to represent the Latino and LGBTQ+ communities. The second season of 13 Reasons Why is now streaming on Netflix, season two of Star Trek: Discovery production is underway, and he is the co-executive producer of the upcoming documentary Out of the Box, which will explore the history of LGBTQ+ in television and how they have been represented, as well as how it has evolved and impacted culture and politics. With every project, role, and movement, Cruz continues to empower minorities and pave the way for more representation and equality.

Google Launches Be Internet Awesome en Español, Sé genial en Internet

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To make the most of the Internet, kids need to be prepared to make smart decisions. Google today announced the expansion of its free Be Internet Awesome program, now available en Español across the United States and Latin America, as Sé genial en Internet.

Research finds that among Latino households, Spanish-dominant families are nearly twice as likely as English-dominant families to recommend having conversations about online safety in the home (39 percent vs. 21 percent). Instead of leaving these safety discussions up to schools or other programs, Latino families want the resources to learn about Internet safety and the tools to help talk about these topics at home, according to a newly commissioned report by Google, which provides a look at Latino families and their online behavior and needs.

To help Latino families address the growing need for online safety information and help close the internet safety education gap, Google’s “Sé genial en Internet” program provides Spanish-language resources needed to talk to kids about digital safety and citizenship—both at home and in the classroom. The first-of-its kind program is free and includes Interland, a video game for kids, at-home resources for parents, and a curriculum for educators.

“Discussions around Internet safety should include the whole family,” says Jessica Covarrubias, Google’s Be Internet Awesome Lead. “By providing resources in Spanish, we encourage Latino parents and kids to talk about online safety together at home. We want all kids to have a high quality experience–plus, the program is so easy and fun to follow that even parents can join in on the learning.”

Families are facing challenges with online safety as kids continuously become tech savvier at younger ages. But with higher internet usage, Latino families are in a heightened state of need. The study found that while Latino parents in the US are actively talking to their kids about internet safety, only half feels in control or trusts that their kids will inform an adult if they find inappropriate content. Furthermore, 90 percent of Latino kids haven’t been taught how to address cyberbullying and one in four Latino parents feels they do not have resources to turn to if child is being cyberbullied.

In addition to the launch of Sé genial en Internet, Be Internet Awesome has made a number of updates, including:

  • Curriculum expansions with new activities and an educators guide
  • Updates to the Interland game, including new levels and quizzes
  • Interactive slide presentations, created in partnership with Pear Deck, for each of the program’s lessons to use in the classroom.

Be Internet Awesome is a free multifaceted program designed to teach kids how to be safe and confident explorers of the online world. Being Internet Awesome means 5 things:

  • Be Internet Smart: Share with care
    • (Being mindful of one’s online reputation)
  • Be Internet Alert: Don’t fall for fake
    • (Avoiding phishing and scams)
  • Be Internet Strong: Secure your secrets
    • (Privacy and Security)
  • Be Internet Kind: It’s cool to be kind
    • (Dealing with and avoiding online harassment)
  • Be Internet Brave: When in doubt, talk it out
    • (Reporting inappropriate content)

Interland is a free, web-based game designed to help kids learn five foundational lessons across four different mini-games, or ‘lands.’ Kids are invited to play their way to Internet Awesome in a quest to deny hackers, sink phishers, one-up cyberbullies, outsmart oversharers and become safe, confident explorers of the online world. We built Interland with help from experts in the digital safety space, and it is the recipient of the International Society for Technology in Education’s Seal of Alignment. The four lands and their key learning objectives are:

Reality River

Don’t Fall for Fake.  The river that runs through Interland flows with fact and fiction. But things are not always as they seem. To cross the rapids, use your best judgement and don’t fall for the antics of the phisher lurking in these waters. Learning objectives include:

  • Understand not everything is true online.
  • Recognize the signs of a scam.
  • Understand phishing and how to report it.

Mindful Mountain

Share with Care. The mountainous town center of Interland is a place where everyone mingles and crosses paths. But you must be very intentional about what you share and with whom…information travels at the speed of light and there’s an oversharer among the Internauts you know. Learning objectives include:

  • Be mindful of what is shared and with whom.
  • Understand consequences of sharing.
  • Understand some info is extra sensitive.

Kind Kingdom

It’s cool to be kind. Vibes of all kinds are contagious—for better or for worse. In the sunniest corner of town, cyberbullies are running amok, spreading negativity everywhere. Block and report bullies to stop their takeover and be kind to other Internauts to restore the peaceful nature of this land. Learning objectives include:

  • The web amplifies kindness and negativity.
  • Not tolerating bullying and speaking up.
  • Block and report mean spirited behavior.

Tower of Treasure

Secure your secrets. Mayday! The Tower is unlocked, leaving the Internaut’s valuables like personal info and passwords at high risk. Outrun the hacker and build an untouchable password every step of the way…to secure your secrets once and for all. Learning objectives include:

  • Take responsibility to protect your things.
  • How to make a strong password.
  • A good password should be memorable.

Sé genial en Internet URL: g.co/segenialeninternet

Sé genial en Internet Interland URL: g.co/sejaincrivelnainternet

Be Internet Awesome URL: g.co/BeInternetAwesome

Interland URL: g.co/Interland