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Free youth leadership retreat kicks off this weekend at the Cooper Center

Chicanos Por La Causa has hosted the retreat for 25 years
Corazon De Aztlan Retreat
Posted at 6:17 PM, Sep 13, 2023

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — A recent report by Zippia found 61.2% of leaders in the workplace are White, with only 17% of Hispanic and 12% of Black people in leadership roles. That’s one of the reasons the Corazon de Aztlan retreat is providing the tools and connections for BIPOC youth to get a head start on the path toward leadership.

The retreat will be held this weekend on September 16 and 17. For 25 years, Chicanos Por La Causa has hosted the retreat to give youth a sense of purpose, all while celebrating culture and experiencing nature at the Cooper Center for Environmental Learning.

“Developing a sense of pride, a sense of awareness of where they come from so they know where they’re at so they have a sense of direction of where they’re going. That matters because of their health and well-being,” said Chucho Ruiz, a Program Coordinator for CPLC’s Nahui Ollin Wellness Program.

Chucho Ruiz first attended the retreat in 1997 at a time when he said he needed it most. “I felt like at that time in my life I was considered like an outcast, or a trouble maker, or someone that was kind of a menace to society rather than someone who could be an active member or contributor to society,” he described.

Now and for the past 20 years, he’s coordinated the retreat. He tells me his four daughters have also attended. While they found their voice in the experience, he led the way as a speaker, sharing his passion to establish healthy masculinity.

While he enjoys sharing the knowledge that he’s gained working through another nonprofit, Call to Men, as a Coordinator of Healthy Masculinity Initiatives, what’s most important to leaders like himself is creating a safe space to build the foundation to receive that knowledge.

“We’re trying to create a space where young people can express themselves fully,” said Deidre Ramirez, CPLC Nauhi Ollin Wellness Coordinator.

The two-day camping retreat is free for people ages 14-21. Anyone interested can register anytime before the event either online here or in person at the meeting location for the event at 250 N. Silverbell Road.

CPLC is hoping to get help with donations like backpacks, water bottles, sleeping bags, hygiene supplies, sunscreen & bug spray, and art/classroom supplies.

Donations can be delivered to 1525 N. Oracle Road during CPLC business hours.

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Reyna Preciado is a reporter for KGUN 9, she joined the KGUN 9 team in July of 2022 after graduating Arizona State University. Share your story ideas with Reyna by emailing reyna.preciado@kgun9.com or by connecting on Instagram, or Twitter.