This summer, Square Peg had the honor of facilitating this cohort. The very first day, we worked on identifying maladaptive cycles, and what it takes to overcome them. As we progressed, these young women led the direction of the lesson and rhetoric. With the help of El Paso JPD staff, officers, and counselors, the healing journey has begun.

As far as the language that is about to grace your ears, the styling was decided upon by the collective desire for storytelling, as well as the individual admiration for music, slam poetry, and art. The vernacular and stylings are left largely alone, save for some minor editing. 

The most powerful aspect of these stories, though, is the undertow. It is what is beneath the surface of these words that will sweep you into their worlds if only for a moment, to experience the darkness–and the light–of these quests. You will notice the power behind what is not said, as much as what is said. The behind the brevity, or loquacity, of each story. The structure and similarities between these independent stories. And the interesting magnification or minimization of major life events. 

Weaving these stories into a gilded quilt of power was the hardest thing I have done as a facilitator to date. With surety, we know we have learned more from this group of amazons that we could have ever taught them.

We joke that when we met, each of us–including myself–had a coping mechanism to mask emotion. Whether it’s giggle, leaving the room, or a coy, “nah, I’m just chillin’” we all learned that releasing our stories and emotions is the only way to truly overcome them. It allows us the opportunity to use the pain as a stepping stone to the next level of growth. Laud to Christina who even had to tell me, “You know, Miss, you don’t have to cry in your car later. You can cry here with us. We’ll do it together.”

 At some point, these brave souls lost themselves while seeking connectivity. Many struggled to regain power that was lost through experiences no one should ever have, especially youth. The courage it took to tell these stories is unfathomable. These young women are on a Hero’s Journey for themselves, and through it all, they are the real heroes. 

Project launch: Trauma and Triumph Conference – Youth were assigned a period wherein they were to tell their stories.
Youth Citizen: Braze Youth Citizens
Locations: Juvenile Probation, Trauma and Triumph Youth Conference


Bishop G.

“I’d say this project is mostly self-advocating.  I guess we have to know how to stop and advocate for ourselves, and it’s your responsibility to advocate for yourself. By ‘you,’ I mean the student, the teacher, the principal, the parent. Everyone. The goal is to work together. If we speak up, you are able to get what you need. If we all speak we can help each other come to an understanding of one another. If we understand one another, and we are communicating, then we have relief and a positive learning environment.  Feeling like you can go to people for help, and get what you need, keeps you going at it. 

I hope this will show that we want students and teachers to have the same path, and to learn from each other. This will help us all because teachers are just like students. They can teach and learn at the same time us.”

Project launch: A Student’s Self Worth – A Project to Create Safe Spaces and Positive Learning Environments Through Self Advocacy and Collaboration
Youth Citizen: Austin G., Bishop F.
Locations: Anthony ISD

Budget: $500. We only used $319!

JUNE/JULY 2019 Anthony ISD Student Cohort
A Student’s Self-Worth
Video Project and Accompanying Student Brochure

February 2019 MIRROR MIRROR

This is a project that aims to improve our outlook on ourselves and others. Started by a local youth, Skyver Negrete, the project will involve putting up acrylic mirrors around El Paso. These mirrors will include positive messages about body image, self confidence, and encouragement. The project hopes to install up to 20 1×2 foot mirrors in populated areas where they will most likely be seen by the public.

Project launch: Mirror Mirror — A project of self-love and affirmation
Youth Citizen: Skyver Negrete
Locations: Pizza Joint, Downtown
Joe Vinny and Bronson’s, Piedras
Borderland Rainbow Center
Veterans Nonprofit, Dyer
El Paso Parks and Recreation Segundo Barrio and Other Local Parks

Budget: $754

  • $150 Mirrors from Baker Glass, (10 Mirrors at 1’x2’ Size)
  • $105 Vinyl Stickers
  • $499 Framing and Hardware for Installation
  • $0 Donated Time for Mirror Preparation
  • $0 Donated Mirror Cutting
  • $0 Donated Time for Installation

The time and attention-to-detail that each project takes ensures a high quality, community-enhancing impact.

Today we finally got to use a prototype to finalize our locations and get all the permissions necessary to install these beauties. With all the love in our hearts, we present our pilot project!

How can you help? Any donation helps us fund youth-led projects! Thank you for all your continued support, El Paso, and El Paso Community Foundation