Mariposa prevention program back in full bloom

Mariposa girls wrote affirming valentines to each other and themselves.

Photo of Kate Stoops, Mariposa Coordinator

With Kate Stoops, Mariposa Coordinator

YWCA PREVENTION work in the elementary schools of Walla Walla and College Place has bloomed as the easing of Covid restrictions makes it possible for us to connect in person again.

After two years of lockdown, the specter of middle school has been extra daunting.

One student described it as — this is a direct quote! — the “smelly dark hallways of mean big kids.”

In Mariposa, we broach the topic and start to dispel the myths about middle school, while also equipping the young women with tools for knowing their value and boundaries to create a safer and stronger community.

“Our Mariposa girls uplift and support each other, growing their confidence, respect, and self-love as they head into middle school.”



Goal-setting, communication, boundaries, self-love, and consent are just a few of the topics that our groups of fifth grade girls dive into.

We are proud of our broad pu­berty curriculum that helps orient our girls to upcoming changes, and empower them to feel comfortable and proud of their bodies.


In fifth grade, Valentine’s Day is a BIG deal. The making of your mail­box for potential valentines, and the solidifying of your crushes can make or break your self-image.

Mariposa groups work on chal­lenging the narrative for our girls.

In February, our groups wrote things that they appreciate about themselves in Valentines.

This activity embodies what Mar­iposa is for. As they were writing, the girls would say things to each other like, “oh wow that is true, you are an awesome basketball player,” or “I really like the way you help me with English sometimes; your English is really good.” or “You are super tall. That is so cool.”

Our Mariposa girls uplift and support each other, growing their confidence, respect, and self-love as they head into middle school.

Mariposa continues to bloom as we head into springtime, listening and sharing with each other while embodying the YWCA mission to empower women and eliminate racism.

We are excited about continuing to encourage and empower these young leaders.


EVERY YEAR, said Executive Director Anne-Marie Zell Schwerin, “we find the most remarkable young people to run the Mariposa program!”

The program, led this year by three Whitman College stu­dents, Anne-Marie said, “is a very part-time job we hope will have a full-time impact on the valley’s fifth-graders.”

Photo of Kiley, Mariposa leader

Kiley Kom­nick (left) meets with 20 girls in afterschool programs at Green Park and Sharpstein Elementary.

Photo of Rebecca, Mariposa leader

Rebecca Patterson (right) is at Edison Elementary serving 15 girls in the afterschool program.

Kate Stoops (top) leads five girls in a lunchtime program at Davis Elementary in College Place.