For years, Beatriz Villarreal’s Mano a Mano Foundation and its program, “Parents Learning to Be Better Parents,” made remarkable headway in keeping kids from falling into San Diego’s drug scene. Then came Proposition 64, legalizing the recreational sale and use of marijuana.
To her horror, the problem was suddenly worse.
“We have such a huge problem in schools,” Beatriz told Freedom. “I’ve been very busy explaining what to do about the kids, because we are looking at vaping with electronic cigarettes, doing liquid marijuana with electronic devices. We’re seeing this in middle schools and high schools, and … it doesn’t smell so kids are doing it in the [school] restrooms.”
Marijuana is still illegal in California for anyone under the age of 21, and the law forbids smoking marijuana in public places—like schools. That has galvanized Beatriz to change her approach in educating both parents and children.
“Teaching the parents about prevention and giving them material from the Drug-Free World foundation, I explain to them what is and is not legal. … There are a lot of misconceptions.”
Beatriz Villarreal’s work in San Diego over nearly three decades has not gone unnoticed. The San Diego Union-Tribune nominated her as “Civic Leader of the Year” and the University of San Diego named her one of five “Remarkable Leaders in Education” for her outreach.
She claims that her work became more focused six years ago after discovering the Foundation for a Drug-Free World (DFW) materials at a community meeting. These materials became central to her presentations.
“This is the best tool that I can use as a teacher, because not only is it well done, … it is easy to understand,” she says. “Everybody from a kid who is in elementary school to an adult can understand every single word, because the vocabulary is very simple. … The pictures, the video, are high quality and, … they’re free. The Church calls me, ‘Do you need more?’ They’re helping me in my mission to educate the community.”
Beatriz Villarreal’s journey began in Mexico City, where she was born and schooled until she traveled to the U.S. and enrolled at the University of San Diego. She earned a doctoral degree in education, the first woman from Mexico known to have done so. Then, she set a goal of helping other Latinos in America.
“I’m trying to show them the way to get the American Dream,” she says. “They came to this country for a better life, and sometimes they get lost on the way.”
Beatriz understands the nuances unique to the Latino community in America, where often both parents work while children cope with less parent time. The Foundation for a Drug-Free World materials help parents recognize and confront problems early.
“My job is to give them information,” she adds, “and thanks to the Drug-Free World foundation … I can give them the materials so they can go back home and learn with their kids.”
Watch her story on the Scientology Network and on demand at Scientology.tv