First it was the organization, next came the printed magazine. Next will be the movement that will take Mothers Awareness on School-age Kids (MASK) to every family, every school and every neighborhood with the aim “to educate both parents and children about the issues facing our youth today and to empower children to make safe, healthy choices.” That is the mission of MASK The Magazine and the mission of the woman behind the MASK Kimberly Cabral.
When I saw the first issue of MASK The Magazine, I was hooked. I was fascinated by the concept and puzzled about who, in their right mind, would start a magazine with such a mission. No sex, no celebrities, no chocolate recipes, no diets, just pure Engagement, Education and Empowerment. I had to get in touch with the woman behind the three Es of MASK The Magazine. I knew this magazine is much more than a business plan. It is a labor of love, and it shows.
I reached out to Kimberly with a host of questions, somehow, more about the organization behind the magazine, the movement, the passion rather than just the magazine. I felt the need to unMASK the woman behind the MASK. What I discovered, was exactly like I guessed, a labor of love that is manifested on every single page of the magazine, the web, and the organization. Kimberly Cabral is on a mission and she is not leaving any MASK undone until every child is able to “make safe, healthy choices.”
In a typical Mr. Magazine™ Interviews, here are the sound-bites first, followed by the entire interview with Kimberly Cabral:
On the reason for MASK, the organization: At MASK we believe that educating kids is great, but in order to make a real impact, the whole family unit/community should be informed and be able to reinforce the messages.
On launching a print magazine: Many people, myself included, see value in the hard copy of books and magazines because they can keep them and refer back to them when needed.
On the ultimate goal of MASK: If the MASK organization or MASK The Magazine can engage, educate and empower families, then we are one step closer to changing statistics.
On the intended audience of MASK: The goal of MASK The Magazine is to reach families! Specifically, families with children entering school to those who are reaching adulthood.
On what makes Kimberly click: I love being part of something that is making a difference, and it is surreal to be doing something you feel that you were born to do.
And now for the complete interview with the founder of MASK, the organization and the magazine:
Samir Husni: MASK, the magazine came after MASK the organization… What is the story of MASK the organization?
Kimberly Cabral: The idea for MASK (Mothers Awareness on School-age Kids) came about four years ago during a car ride with my son, who would soon be entering middle school. The conversation I had with him that day opened my eyes to the realities our kids face, as early as elementary school. As a result of that conversation, I started gathering information, and I was alarmed to discover while there are great awareness/prevention programs out there, they didn’t start educating until middle school and high school. I thought, “Why are they waiting to start then, when the behaviors start in the elementary years?” From there, I approached three friends who also shared the same concerns as I did. We decided to develop a program that began in the entry level of school and would educate as they grow. We partnered with and were trained by experts in the various fields, and we began conducting meetings on a variety of topics of concern, including the dangers of drugs, alcohol and tobacco, bullying, Internet safety and self-esteem.
SH: Why did you decide to launch a print magazine in this digital age? Is there a future for print?
KC: At MASK we believe that educating kids is great, but in order to make a real impact, the whole family unit/community should be informed and be able to reinforce the messages. We soon realized that, although our meetings were informative and well-received, we live in a time-deprived society, and many people don’t have time to schedule another commitment. I feel so passionately that the information we provide can be life-saving, so in order to reach a larger audience, we launched MASK The Magazine.
Although MASK The Magazine is also available digitally, I believe there will always be those who prefer print in this digital age. Many people, myself included, see value in the hard copy of books and magazines because they can keep them and refer back to them when needed. The generational gap that has existed over decades seems to be even wider today as a result of technology. There are a still a large number of families who don’t use the Internet, or are not well educated about it. We want this publication to be available to all.
SH: It seems to me that you are more than passionate about this subject matter. What is in it for Kimberly to be doing this?
KC: As a mother of a blended family of five, I know how important it is to keep up with the latest trends and influences in our children’s lives. I was a stay-at-home mom, living in a safe neighborhood, with time to devote to my children and volunteer at their schools. Once I became aware of what was really going on, it became my passion to inform others and help open the lines of communication between parents and their children. Growing up, I could have been the poster child for someone who easily could have “gone the wrong way” based on the choices I had in life and the decisions I could have made, but didn’t. I had my full share of deficiencies and challenges growing up. Luckily I had people who made a difference in my life: a high school Spanish teacher who took the time to listen, and a CHP Officer who took me under his wing after my uncle (his colleague) died. Looking back, I was given a gift, and as I see it now, I feel that I have been fortunate to find my “life’s purpose.” I am driven by the desire to help in any way that I can, and as an organization to help bridge that generational gap between families and communities. If the MASK organization or MASK The Magazine can engage, educate and empower families, then we are one step closer to changing statistics.
SH: You are trying to reach such a general audience, from parents of young children to those with college kids… do you think this is possible in this day and age?
KC: The goal of MASK The Magazine is to reach families! Specifically, families with children entering school to those who are reaching adulthood. I recently was able to interview our student writers of MASK The Magazine (Our S.A.T. section, list). In talking to them, I was invited into their world, and they confirmed to me what deep down I have believed to be true: kids want to be understood, they need our guidance as parents, and they want to matter and be heard. We have only published three issues so far, and not only do we have the “buy in” from parents, we are getting positive feedback from the kids/students themselves.
SH: What are some of the methods you are using to spread the word about MASK, both the organization and the magazine?
KC: In addition to spreading the word about MASK through our school awareness presentations, we also use social media to get the word out, including our website (www.maskmatters.org), blogs, facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. We are partnering with like-minded businesses and organizations. We send press releases to media outlets, conduct television interviews, attend events, and generally “pound the pavement” to inform as many people as possible about our organization.
SH: What are your expectations for MASK, both the organization and the magazine?
KC: We have received magazine subscriptions from across the United States and internationally, which is thrilling. Currently in development is MASK’s National Student Awareness Kit which will be made available to any individual school that requests it. The kit will include prevention material, videos, reinforcement strategies, and all information needed for educators to self-teach MASK’s educational programs.
SH: Lastly, what makes Kimberly get up from bed in the morning? What makes you tick and click every day?
KC: I love being a mom! I love my kids and I love kids in general. Every time I see a new baby, in the back of my mind I think “one more”. I love being part of something that is making a difference, and it is surreal to be doing something you feel that you were born to do.
SH: Thank you.
To learn more about MASK click here and be sure to check MASK’s MASKer Aide Gala, Friday Oct. 21, 2011 in Scottsdale, AZ.