Teen speaker makes impact at annual family conference
November 27, 2013
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii (Nov. 22, 2013) -- The voice of U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii's teens echoed with poise and assurance at this years' Army Family Action Plan conference Report Out, held at the Nehelani, here, Nov. 15.
Eliana Vargas, a 13-year-old from Wheeler Middle School, spoke with authority as she outlined the issues USAG-HI teens wanted to bring forward, which included help with educating teens about dating violence.
"I asked to be a part of AFAP to specifically bring up this issue," said Vargas.
The issue evolved from Vargas' personal experience and from recent experiences of a friend.
She came into the AFAP armed with supporting facts that place a figure of 1.5 million high school students nationally who experience physical abuse from a dating partner in a single year.
Her report out made an immediate impact.
"This is where we have to start," said Brig. Gen. Todd McCaffrey, deputy commander-support, 25th Infantry Division, in immediate response to Vargas' plea for Army help with teaching teens about unhealthy relationships and curbing violence.
McCaffrey indicated the teens' issue, outlined by Vargas at the AFAP, was "a cousin" to the Army initiative of sexual assault awareness and prevention, an issue that is gaining an increasing profile and importance at the Army installation level.
"I was eager to present this, and hopefully make a difference," Vargas said following her presentation.
Vargas' mother, Maddie Martell, who works for USAG-HI's Army Community Service, said her daughter came away satisfied from the AFAP experience.
"She felt she accomplished what she wanted people to know," said Martell.
Knowing her daughter, Martell anticipates Vargas will continue to work to help implement any new teen-awareness program that may evolve from the AFAP conference.