The Real Issues
There are serious challenges facing kids and young adults in today’s society. It may come as a surprise that, as early as middle school, kids are faced with issues like drug use, eating disorders, bullying, and depression. And the statistics are less than reassuring: 30% of teens with depression also develop a substance abuse problem, and The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse reports that one-third of children, ages 12 to 17, have their first drink before the age of 13.
Kimberly Cabral realized early on with her own five kids that being involved at school simply wasn’t enough and it was time to ask the tougher questions.
Two-thousand seven saw Kimberly as a stay-at-home mom of five kids, and although she was very involved in her kids’ school, education, and activities, she was deeply invested in connecting with her kids on a deeper level. After an eye-opening conversation with her oldest son about sex, drug use, and bullying in his sixth-grade class, she realized that the dialogue with her kids that had seemed adequate before was barely scratching the surface of understanding what kids were dealing with at school.
The foundation of MASK is family and community.
Creating a Program for Everyone
Mothers Awareness on School-age Kids, or MASK, was founded in 2007 by Kimberly after the conversation with her son changed her perspective completely.
In her research at the time, she found many programs that offered education or assistance in one specific topic but only at a high level and nothing that comprehensively covered all of the issues facing school-aged kids. Kimberly wanted to create an education program that covered all the issues, in-depth and was available to all kids and parents in schools and at home. With her idea firmly in place, she began reaching out to other parents, school board members, and her local community to get the word out and begin creating a curriculum. She hosted the first MASK meeting at a local church and her first meeting had over 150 participants show up, greatly exceeding her expectations. Even more inspiring, over 300 participants attended the second meeting.
MASK focuses on targeted educational curriculum designed to engage, educate, and empower both kids and parents alike. The programs include MASK Academy for elementary-aged kids, MASK Prep for high schoolers, and MASK Leadership for college-aged and above. The goal of these programs is to provide an education-based approach to understanding the issues kids are facing in school and life and give kids and parents the tools to start difficult dialogues as well as address questions and concerns. The programs integrate stories, music, movement, science, and mindfulness to stimulate long-term retention.
Integrating the community has had an empowering effect on MASK, creating a powerful team of supporters, financial donors, and positive nationwide recognition. Kimberly has some aggressive goals for the future of MASK, including a MASK at Home curriculum, a new app to make MASK accessible any time, and digitalizing all of the programs available. Kimberly and her team truly understand the value of their local community, as much of what they do wouldn’t be possible without the physical and financial support of community members and business owners. What C would she add to the group? “Conversation! It’s all about communication and conversations, having the parents and kids talk.”
8937 E Bell Rd # 202