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Friday, March 23, 2007  
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March 22, 2007
Contact: Mercy Viana Schlapp
Washington, DC - At a congressional briefing held today, the Congressional Hispanic Leadership Institute and the Girl Scouts of USA (GSUSA) shed light on the crisis facing Latina teenagers and discussed ways to work together with other organizations to reach out to Latinas. Patricia Diaz Dennis, the GSUSA Chairwoman, shared the alarming statistics associated with the significant health and social disparities among Latina teenagers:
17% of Latina adolescents attempt suicide – their rate is more than 150% higher than other girls.
24% of Hispanic teenagers get pregnant, which is the highest pregnancy rate of any of their peers (other statistics show this rate at 51%).
One of every five Latina teenager is obese. Latinas are at disproportionately high risk for HIV, Chlamydia and Gonorrhea.
One-quarter of all Latina girls drop out of school.
Ms. Dennis shared the work being done by the Girl Scouts to help young Latinas build leadership skills and self esteem and emphasized the important need of bringing together Latina-based organizations, corporate leaders and policymakers to build partnerships and create supportive policies and increased funding for effective programs. "The topic, Young Latinas in Crisis, is both relevant and pressing. We need to bring to the forefront the challenges our Latina youth face in America today and reaffirm the opportunity for solutions in our Health and Education Policies, and in our Youth Services," said Patricia Diaz Dennis, "I applaud Congressman Lincoln Diaz-Balart and the Congressional Hispanic Leadership Institute for their leadership on this important issue. It is my hope that through the work of today we can reach a wide audience of policymakers, educators, corporate leaders and advocates alike who will join us as we commit to reverse these trends."
"CHLI has a strong commitment to discuss issues of importance to the U.S. Hispanic community, especially when it concerns the future well-being of our youth, families and nation. I salute Girl Scouts National Chairwoman Patricia Diaz Dennis for her steadfast dedication in increasing the number of Latinas in Girl Scouts and in helping Latino communities throughout our country", said Congressman Lincoln Diaz-Balart.
The briefing included a panel discussion from top policymakers and community leaders including Dr. Cristina Beato, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services, Alma Morales Riojas, President/CEO, Mana, a Latina Organization, Deborah Santiago, Vice President for Policy and Research, Excelencia in Education and Lidia Soto-Harmon, Deputy Executive Director, Girl Scout Council of the Nation's Capital. The audience also heard the perspective of a local Latina teenager as she shared her personal story and her hope for tomorrow.
For more information, contact CHLI at 202-429-2033 or visit or the Girl Scouts website Established in 2003, CHLI works to promote new and alternative approaches to challenges faced by the 40 million Hispanic and Portuguese Americans living in the United States today. Through educational partnerships, leadership programs, academic seminars and other events, CHLI provides opportunities for discussion and exploration of strategic solutions for community challenges that in turn, benefit the nation as a whole.
Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA) is the preeminent organization for and leading authority on girls with 3.6 million girl and adult members. Now its 95th year, Girl Scouting builds girls of courage, confidence and character who make the world a better place. The organization serves girls from every corner of the United States, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

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