CCHLC focused on local youth

Published 1:35 pm Monday, December 27, 2021

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By Elisabeth Altamirano-Smith/ Freelance Writer

Natividad Gonzalez of Maplesville is on a mission in Chilton County. Her work at the Alabama Coalition for Immigrant Justice focuses on creating programs that help the growth and integration of communities of color, as well as migrant communities, in the State of Alabama. With the help of the community, Gonzalez created the Chilton County Hispanic Leadership Community (CCHLC), a program that focuses on Chilton County youth.

“There is a lack of resources and activities for young people,” Gonzalez said. “Creating those activities is our priority. Currently, there is a high number of young people who are falling into some type of drug problem or are having depression issues that is due to the lack of activities among other factors. We found that some youth do not continue their studies due to a lack of guidance. School is not enough for young people to be motivated to continue their studies. Many parents do not know how to support their children in certain academics. That discourages young people from wanting to continue with their college education.”

An initial step in creating the group was to convene a listening session in different cities, including those in Chilton County. The invitation was made through social networks and with the help of some businesses that have an interest in these projects. Similar programs are currently being planned for other Alabama cities including Cullman, Alexander City and Birmingham.

CCHLC organizes activities for children and youth. Topics of interest on the calendar for 2022 with the help of some local and state agencies include civic education, education for parents and youth on drug issues, preparing for college, sex education and cultural education, which includes a cultural dance class. Ages of participants range from 9 to 17 years old. Beginning in January, new courses will be available for children ranging from 5 to 10 years of age.

“Some of the previous workshops have been with the county extension office,” said Gonzalez. “We have hosted cultural dance classes taught by Antonio Ramirez Vazquez and Claudia Rivera, music classes and listening sessions to help us identify topics of interest for young people.

Gonzalez’s children, Bianca Maza-Mendez, age 15, and Abril Maza-Mendez, age 12, are also CCHLC participants.

“My children are helped by living around other people,” Gonzalez said. “They learn by sharing their different talents with other people. They get help from others at CCHLC, that many times, we as parents do not know how to give them.”

CCHLC participants are from Jemison, Clanton, Montevallo, Maplesville and Alabaster. The group currently meets Tuesdays and Thursdays, from 6-7:30 p.m. at 742 Main Street in Montevallo.

There is no cost to participate, but some participants donate $10 dollars to help pay for utility use of the building. All CCHLC resources are donated by the members of the group.

For more information about CCHLC, contact Natividad at 334-349-3499 or