SAN ANTONIO -- There is a program called Girl Zone offering girls a refuge from violence on east side streets.
With team building, community service, healthy meals and so much more, the girls who come to Girl Zone told KENS 5 the life lessons they're learning are helping them survive and thrive. They play lots of games here, but the goal is to grow winners in the game of life.
The program is one of many sponsored by the Martinez Street Women's Center. The organization is teaching girls to become powerful agents for positive change in a neighborhood where good news is badly needed.
"We get to express ourselves and be ourselves here. They teach us how to have healthy relationships and have healthy meals," 13-year-old Mia Arce said.
Because there are no boys, the girls involved said they are free to grow without judgment.
"I could be like a butterfly and spread my wings," said Roxanna Hernandez.
"It's just really amazing. I wish all girls around the world could have this program, because not many girls have an opportunity to get the help they need," another participant said.
Woven into every element of the program is a Mayan poem they they call "In Lak'Ech."
"I am you. You are me. You are my other me. If I do harm to you, I do harm to myself," said Hernandez.
It's a lesson the adult mentors hope the girls will be taking with them to the streets of their troubled neighborhood.
Hernandez spoke at length about all the many benefits she has enjoyed during her five years in the program.
“They help you with math, reading, science, anything you need help with and they will help you because you know you are not alone. They will be by your side, physically or not. They will support and help you,” Hernandez said.
Click here if you would like to volunteer or learn more about the program.
The center said it is also looking for donations to help cover the cost of the enrichment activities for the campers.