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Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration - SAMHSA News - Volume X, No. 4 - Fall 2002
 

ĄSoy Unica! ĄSoy Latina! Arrives in Miami

SAMHSA's ¡Soy Unica! ¡Soy Latina! bilingual public education initiative received a boost this fall through the participation of two prominent Latina community leaders. Florida's First Lady Columba Bush and New York State Health Commissioner and former U.S. Surgeon General Antonia Novello, M.D., agreed to serve as "Madrinas" (godmothers, mentors, spokespersons) for the campaign, whose title translates as "I am unique!
I am Latina!"

The ¡Soy Unica! ¡Soy Latina! initiative is designed to help Latinas age 9 to 14, their mothers, and other caregivers build self-esteem, mental health, decision-making skills, and assertiveness to prevent the abuse of alcohol, tobacco, and illicit drugs. SAMHSA joined with the Hispanic/Latino community to develop educational materials for the initiative.

¡Soy Unica! ¡Soy Latina! educational materials are part of SAMHSA's Hablemos en Confianza family of products that are designed to strengthen the dialogue between Spanish-speaking Hispanic/Latino parents and their children about the dangers of substance abuse.

According to SAMHSA's 2001 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse, a significant number of Latinas turn to alcohol and illicit drugs. Almost one in five Latinas age 12 to 17 reported past-year illicit drug use. More than one in four reported lifetime use of an illicit drug. Almost one-third, 31 percent, reported past-year alcohol use and 17 percent reported past-year use of cigarettes. Other studies have found Hispanic girls rank higher in rates of pregnancy, depression, and suicide than any other racial or ethnic group.

Mrs. Bush and Dr. Novello joined SAMHSA Administrator Charles G. Curie, M.A., A.C.S.W., and Miami Dade County Commissioner Jimmy Morales on Saturday, October 19, at South Miami Middle School to encourage hundreds of Latinas to celebrate their heritage and prevent the use of alcohol, tobacco, and illicit drugs.

"We have joined with the Hispanic/Latino community to help parents send a clear and consistent message to their children—that drugs are illegal, dangerous, and addictive," said Mr. Curie. He added, "The key is talking with our children early and often. ¡Soy Unica! ¡Soy Latina! is about helping young Latinas get the information they need and helping mothers talk about a subject that can be difficult for them."

The October rally for ¡Soy Unica! ¡Soy Latina! was one in a series planned to alert Latino communities to the initiative. For this rally, SAMHSA partnered with Miami Premier Soccer Club, Miami Dade County, and Girl Scouts Council of Tropical Florida.

The ¡Soy Unica! ¡Soy Latina! materials, in English and Spanish, include activity books for Latinas ages 9 to 11 and 12 to 14 and advice for mothers on talking with and learning from their daughters. An interactive Web site, www.SoyUnica.gov, engages young Latinas in activities and encourages dialogue that promotes healthy, drug-free lifestyles. A parallel Web site, www.SoyUnica.gov/adults, is geared to parents and gatekeepers.

SAMHSA has created special toll-free telephone numbers to obtain free ¡Soy Unica! ¡Soy Latina! materials. Girls may call 1 (800) 773-8546, and adults can call 1 (877) 767-8432.

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