Access Youth Academy board member Malcolm Bohm and executive director Renato Paiva paid a visit to the La Jolla Town Council on May 9 to present their unique youth sports-based nonprofit to trustees.
Access Youth Academy invests in youth from San Diego’s poorest neighborhoods by giving them an opportunity to achieve academically, engage in community service and excel at the little-known sport of squash.
“What we’ve been able to do through Access Youth Academy is breed champions. We have nine individual champions and team champions, including the 2013 girls’ and boys’ senior national champions this year,” said Bohm.
The youth advocates do much more than just put a racket in the hands of children. They transform young lives by taking them from distressed circumstances and instilling inspiration and values that help the students become promising leaders of tomorrow, said Bohm and Paiva.
One of the values the academy teaches the children is to give back, said Bohm.
“They have chosen to get out of their distressed circumstance and make something of themselves,” he said. “We have fantastic results in the sport and we also do community service. We go out and clean the beaches, the sides of the streets and various things, and they are expected to put in a certain amount of hours.”
Another pillar in the program — and the most important according to Paiva — is educational achievement.
“No. 1 is always going to be academics. We’re not there to make champions. We are there to make students that had less chances to go to college, and we’ve been doing a good job so far,” he said. “Every day, the kids come to us and they study for at least one hour. Six years in a row, the same kids.”
Through its partnership with Preuss School, Access Youth Academy boasts a 100 percent graduation rate to top schools in the nation. This year, all students in the program’s graduating class are going to Ivy League schools, some on full scholarships.
The nonprofit has plans to expand its program to Hoover High by building a squash facility at the high school using Proposition Z bonds.
“Ours are the first set of bonds that have already been put up for sale and our contract to expand into Hoover High is within the top three,” said Bohm. “We have a goal to match $3 million to $3 million that the city will give. Every dollar that we get into Access Youth Academy is matched through Proposition Z dollar for dollar. With that, we will be able to excel ourselves right up to No. 1 and affect many, many more kids.”
To learn more about Access Youth Academy, visit www.accessyouthacademy.org, or call (858) 202-0406.
Coast Boulevard beautification at Children’s Pool still in need of funding
With the upcoming demolition and reconstruction of the lifeguard tower at Children’s Pool beach slated to begin in mid-June, the community’s last chance to secure funding for the Coast Boulevard beautification project is nearing.
The community-driven landscape redesign project, spearheaded by La Jolla Parks & Beaches trustee Phyllis Minick, will widen the main walkway, add a secondary overlook, enhance seating, guide pedestrian access and generate plant barriers along the low bluffside wall to add safety without obstructing views in the area around Children’s Pool beach.
“The current cost is about $250,000,” said La Jolla Community Planning Association trustee Patrick Ahern. “If we wait to do it, it’s double. It would be more like $500,000.”
The one-time $250,000 price tag to restore the area is only valid if construction of the walkway coincides with construction of the city-funded lifeguard tower project. If the projects take place simultaneously, the city has offered to share its construction team and contractors as well as waive permitting for the sidewalk reconstruction if the two projects overlap.
“All we’re looking for is six degrees of separation,” said Ahern. “Somebody you know might know somebody else who might want to make a difference. Or we’re looking for seven donors at $35,000 apiece. It’s a one-time ask and it’s permanent. It’s going to be there for the rest of our lives certainly and for generations to come.”
Ahern said the area is currently messy, congested by the narrow walkway and can be a dangerous environment for elderly people who often trip on the edge of the sidewalk.
“This is one of the most beautiful, pristine places truly in the world,” he said. “It’s an incredible asset. A lot of people go there. It’s an economic pillar, and it’s truly one of our jewels in La Jolla and in the country.”
Minick will donate a sign with naming rights to the $250,000 donor and other naming opportunities are also available on the seating walls, drinking fountain, planters and cobblestone.
“The goal is to show that the people of San Diego, the residents of La Jolla and of the world care about the safety, the environment, the history and the educational opportunities, especially for children,” she said.
To donate to the project or to download a grant proposal, visit lajollaparksandbeaches.org/coast-walk-beautification.
IN OTHER LJTC NEWS
• Maureen Murphy of La Jolla Village Lodge donated a $500 check to the La Jolla Christmas Parade Foundation to kickstart fundraising for the annual holiday parade and festival a little early. Donations are encouraged year-round to help continue the community tradition. Donations are tax-deductible and checks should be made payable to the La Jolla Town Council Parade Foundation can be mailed to 1150 Silverado St., La Jolla, 92037.
• Mayor Bob Filner announced that a vacuum procedure will be used to clean up cormorant and sea lion excrement that is causing the foul odor at La Jolla Cove.
“By Memorial Day, no more poop smell,” he said. “I had threatened every permitting agency that if they didn’t give me permits by Memorial Day that I was going to clean up the poop myself. To make sure I didn’t break the law, they all gave us the permits.”
• Filner, District 2 City Councilman Kevin Faulconer and Gina Seau are some a few of the big names who will be dancing in La Jolla Town Council’s upcoming “Dancing with La Jolla Stars” event on Oct. 5 from 6 to 10 p.m. at the Torrey Pines Hilton. Proceeds from the fundraiser will benefit community projects supported by the Town Council, as well as the Warriors and Quiet Waters nonprofit. Tickets are $175 per person or $325 per couple.
• The La Jolla Shores Association is working with the diving community and others in the watersports community to determine solutions to manage the park and beach areas in the Shores.
• The Windansea Surf Club will host an exhibition at the California Surf Museum in Oceanside, which will launch on June 8 and run for six months. The exhibit presents the 50-year history of the longstanding surf club and its members from all over the world.