Updated: Feb 24, 2022
In July of 2020, our community health team held a virtual focus group with participants in different GEMAS support groups in order to get feedback about their experiences. GEMAS stands for Grupos de Empoderamiento para Mujeres con Apoyo y Superación, or Women’s Empowerment Groups for Support and Personal Growth. Community Health Workers who facilitate these groups are trained to use a curriculum that runs for about 20 sessions. They address a number of topics and work to establish support systems between the women, who are mostly mothers, that participate. Generally, each group meets twice a month but, because of the emotional wear and tear of the pandemic, a number of participants asked to meet more frequently. Some groups met weekly, and participants decided whether they preferred to meet virtually or in a hybrid format that included in-person sessions held outdoors.
Diana Martínez, Community Health Worker, says that, "During the focus group, participants told us that they wanted to continue meeting and sharing in community after having completed the GEMAS curriculum." Amor por Mi Mismo, our Love for Self, was developed in response to this feedback. These support groups are more informal and the only requirement for participation is to have completed the GEMAS curriculum. Diana explains that “loving oneself” is one of the topics discussed during GEMAS, and participants chose this name together.
Amor por Mi Mismo participants focus on topics that interest them and facilitators invite other Enlace staff and staff from partner organizations to offer workshops and presentations. Diana gave the example that many participants are interested in healthy cooking and so she coordinated a workshop with Rolando Perez, Enlace's Healthy Food Systems Coordinator. They held an in-person session and learned to make sushi. “Rolando is one of our frequent guests,” Diana says. “Participants really like to learn about health and healthy food.
“The group dynamics are very good and the participants are very happy,” says Diana. “We currently have five Amor por Mi Mismo groups.” If you are interested in participating in one of the GEMAS groups or if you have already completed the GEMAS curriculum and want information about Amor por Mi Mismo, contact our Community Health Workers at firstname.lastname@example.org or 773.669.5490.