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A step towards reducing violence: LUNA creates support group for teens with trauma

Nonprofit LUNA's support group allows Latino teens to talk about the trauma they've experienced and learn healthy coping strategies.

DES MOINES, Iowa — Latinas Unidas Por Un Nuevo Amanecer, or LUNA, is starting a youth group to discuss trauma and ways to overcome it. 

LUNA, according to its website, was formed by a group of survivors in 1999 after noticing a lack of resources available to the Latinx community in Iowa. 

Now, the organization assists people who have been through domestic violence or sexual assault. The youth support group, LUNA's latest effort to combat violence, was established to help Latinos ages 13-18 talk about what they've been through and the violence they may have witnessed. 

The group's debut coming a few weeks after the shooting at East High School wasn't a coincidence, Domestic Violence Coordinator for LUNA Jodi Bowden-Fuentes said. LUNA hopes to lend a hand and give teens who might have witnessed the incident a place to talk freely about it.

RELATED: Latin community leaders call for action after deadly shooting outside East High School

Bowden-Fuentes said the group will be run by a trained LUNA staff member who will teach the teens healthy coping strategies, with the end goal being to help them heal.

"Knowledge is power at the end of the day," she said. 

If teens see trauma due to violence growing up and don't address it, Bowden-Fuentes said, it begins to manifest itself in other aspects of their lives. It can cause them to struggle in school or start exhibiting violent behavior.

The support group will have two sections and meet two days a week.

"This might not seem like a leap forward, but it is a step," Bowden-Fuentes said. "With every step towards reducing violence, we make it just a little bit better."

If anyone is interested in joining the youth support group, call 515-271-5060 or message the nonprofit on its Facebook page. Sign-ups end Thursday, April 7. 

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