EVANSVILLE, Ind. – In a long list of things Evansville is known for, one more can be added to the list: creating the next generation of women leaders.
“I want these girls to be the leaders of the future,” Arcea Zapata of Aston, Ph.D. mentioned.
Zapata of Aston founded Voces En Acción, which translates into Voices in Action, an empowerment and leadership program in Evansville and Owensboro for girls and women of color ages 12 to 24 to connect with other women. , explore their voices through artistic expression and develop skills to be leaders in their local community.
In Evansville, the program takes place at the Evansville Museum of Arts, History and Science and in Owensboro it takes place at the Owensboro Museum of Science and History. The two will be hosting events as part of the program until November 12.
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The Evansville Museum will be the central location for many workshops, which will allow the group to explore new topics. Combined with the emphasis on learning and experiencing art, the museum gives them the space to create their own pieces.
Zapata of Aston said the workshops were pushing for a “process of social transformation”.
She started the program in 2018 in Owensboro after receiving a grant from the Kentucky Foundation for Women before recently expanding to Evansville after receiving sponsorship from The Grantmakers for Girls of Color in New York City. Since then, one of VEA’s main goals has been to help “girls and young women find a place and a space where they feel good, friendly and important to them”.
To help create this space, she is currently offering workshops where an expert, who identifies as a woman of color, helps girls find their voice through art.
These workshops cover topics such as music, creative writing, cooking, photography, theater, painting and dance.
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Miami-based Venezuelan singer, songwriter and actress Sasha Mangarre-Rodríguez hosted the first major theater and music workshop this week. She was excited to help give girls the opportunity to express themselves through songwriting.
“My main thing in these kinds of projects is to unite people, unite voices and realize that we are a woman and stand up in a very peaceful way,” she said.
After his workshop, the program will host another workshop called “La Mariposa” or the butterfly. In this workshop, the girls will focus on self-care and bonding with other girls.
Several of the participants said that these opportunities offered by VEA are important and they hope to take more advantage of them by participating.
“I think (VEA) mainly helps girls try to get started on the right path and decide what they want to do with their lives,” said Brisa Sanchez, 20. She said she was still traveling to find her way and hopes the workshops will help her find it.
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Laisha Diaz, 22, is the program intern and is entering her second year as a participant. She said the program allows women to have a voice and create a home within each other.
Another group member, Daniela Benson-Pena, 20, hopes the program and workshops will show Latinos and other women of color that they should try programs dedicated to the arts to see all the opportunities available.
This program has been Zapata of Aston’s dream to bring to the local community, and she hopes the girls can learn as much as possible.
“I want them to develop the skills and knowledge to guide other young Latin women or women of color in the community,” she said.
The registration link on the website has been closed, but places are still open for girls or young women to join us, organizers said. More information about the program and its monthly schedule can be found on the program’s website at educaeducation.org/vea/index.html. For more information on registration, contact Aston’s Arcea Zapata by email at [email protected]