California Educator

October / November 2018

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P re v e n t i o n Mo n t h . T h e c o u p l e h o p e s t h a t t h e resolution will encourage more school districts and governments to adopt sim- ilar resolutions. Alonso-Garcia and her h u sb a n d a re n o stra n g - ers to gang violence. She herself was assaulted several years ago by a gang member in her classroom and mounted a citizen's arrest. Her husband sees the impact on society through his work as a prison corrections officer. But neither of them could ever have anticipated the violent death of their teenage son at the hands of a gang member. Martin was fatally stabb ed on Jan . 6, 2013, just outside a holiday party he and his sister attended in El Centro, the random target of a young gang member who had just been released from jail. A well-regarded athlete at Brawley High School, Martin was about to begin the last semester of his senior year and had plans to enter college that fall. Instead, that night, he was cradled in his sister's arms before being taken to the hospital, where he died. "January 6 (the ree Kings Day) was his favorite holiday," Alonso-Garcia says. She and her family now mark the date by participating in an annual peace vigil. "It's a celebration of life," she says. e entire community was shaken by the news that day of Martin's death, and the law enforcement community worked around the clock until they caught the suspect. So many donations came in to the family that the couple decided to establish a scholarship fund, and later formed MAG, which bears the same ini- tials of their son. A l t h o u g h M A G b e g a n a s a s c h o l - a r s h i p f u n d , A l o n s o - G a r c i a a n d t h e coalition decided to further push the community into addressing gang vio- lence and prevention. "At first, no one wanted to talk about the elephant in the room because once you accept that there is a problem, you have to do something about it," she says. Through sheer persistence, the MAG Coalition was able to bring the commu- nity together to take action. She reached out to the county board of supervisors, city councils, local busi - nesses, Imperial Valley College and the California Correctional Peace Officers Association to endorse and participate in gang prevention programs, youth events and outreach programs. In 2016, Alonso-Garza piloted a stu- dent club at her school, where students meet once a week to organize school activities that promote tolerance, a drug free campus, non-violence and commu- nity building. This year MAG Teens will expand to all Imperial County middle and high schools. She would like to see scho ol s throughout th e stat e l aunch similar clubs. "No one grows up wanting to be a gang member. No parent wants their child to grow up to become a gang member. But there are day-to-day survival skills that drive our youth in that direction. We need to provide a different direction," she says. More recently, Alonso-Garza met with state Superintendent of Public Education Tom Torlakson, NEA President Lily Eskel- sen García, her CTA representatives and CTA officers, to promote gang prevention efforts, both state and nationwide. There was a brief period when Alon- so-Garza herself feared gang retaliation and stepped back from her work with the coalition. But now, she is more involved than ever. "As long as I have a heartbeat, I'm going to do everything I can," she says. For more, go to @MAGCoalition and Display at the 2018 annual MAG Coalition Sneaker Ball shows a photo of Martin Alberto Garza. Courtesy KSWT 13. " As long as I have a heartbeat, I'm going to do everything I can." — Yulil Alonso-Garza 57 O C T O B E R / N O V E M B E R 2 018

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