Though refugee youth living in America come from different countries and speak different tongues, there is a language they can all have in common: soccer. As YALLA education director Lars Almquist explained, soccer is “a universal language among a diasporic community.” YALLA founder, Mark Kabban experienced this phenomenon himself when one day he was juggling a soccer ball outside and a group of refugee kids joined him in a pickup game. Having lived in Lebanon for most of his youth, Kabban knows how hard it is to move into a new society. Inspired by his impromptu soccer match, he founded YALLA, a Peace Builders Soccer League and tutoring program for refugee kids. Youth in his program come from Iraq, Africa, and Latin America, and often immigrated to the United States to escape civil war, genocide, and forced labor. Many have never been to school a day in their lives, but in their new homes, they have a chance to acquire knowledge, make new friends, and prepare for bright futures in college or trade careers.
By word of mouth and outreach efforts, young refugees come to the YALLA office, hoping to join the soccer team they heard about in school. But the soccer league is really just a hook to get kids involved in YALLA’s true mission—to help youth acclimate into and succeed in their new lives in America, both socially and academically. In exchange for the chance to play, scholar-athletes must spend the same amount of time in after-school tutoring sessions as they do in soccer practice, so that they hone their math and language skills along with their bicycle kick. Within this strong community of peers, young refugees can build a home and work toward success that was long denied to them.
While tutoring youth in YALLA, Almquist found that it only takes a small push to help them progress from hopelessness to success. Everyday they work, they build a foundation of knowledge in a new language. Eventually, something clicks and they can finish problems on their own or begin tutoring other children. Then they can focus on a larger goal, such as going to college, getting a job, or finding a scholarship to play soccer after graduation.
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The La Jolla New Generations Rotary Club's “Cupcakes & Cocktails” event invites guests for an afternoon of tasty sweets and delicious drinks in a spacious, lodge-style venue overlooking the beach. Over the course of the event, guests can socialize and compare frosting beards as they nibble on two cupcakes and exchange two drink tickets for cocktails or beers by Blue Moon and Longboard, all for a worthy cause. Listen to the reverberations of live music in the natural lighting of the main room, migrate up to the second-floor deck to get a lofty view of the coast, or step out onto the shaded terrace to enjoy the fresh, summer air amid flowers and park benches. Each guest will also be entered into a raffle for chances to win rewards from an Aveda salon, goodies from Sprinkles Cupcakes, a cash prize, and a lifetime supply of leftover ticket stubs.
The program pairs Captain Mentors with Junior Captains (mentees), providing opportunities for youth to develop lifelong relationships, interact with their peers in engaging and challenging environments, and encourage Junior Captains to be advocates for diabetes awareness and leaders in their communities. Past program participants have achieved goals such as competing in national high-school sports competitions and completing half marathons and triathlons. However, the costs of training and traveling for such events can be prohibitively expensive for many families. Insulindependence aims to expand its outreach in the upcoming year by providing more scholarships for the mentorship program, and the organization needs additional funding to sponsor Junior Captains who may not otherwise be able to afford the program, including the costs of lodging, food, travel, and the culminating event of the program.
California Wolf Center was founded in 1977 to educate the public about wildlife and ecology, specifically the history and behavior of the gray wolf. Located 50 miles east of San Diego, it houses 19 wolves—five Alaskan gray wolves and 14 of the approximately 358 Mexican gray wolves that exist worldwide. The wolves act as ambassadors for the wild, taking part in educational programs for the public. The center also participates in the Mexican Wolf Species Survival Plan, which aims to help the endangered species recover in the wild. At the facility, wolves live in off-exhibit enclosures that can help retain their natural behavior since some of them will eventually be released back into the wild.
When the early afternoon tide is low, participants in the Surfing Madonna "Save the Ocean" 5K/10K line up waterside on Moonlight Beach. The scenic run takes athletes of all stripes along the shore to their respective 5k and 10k turnaround points, at which point they must loop back to the finish. Each runner has three hours to complete his or her route, which features aid stations stocked with food and drink along the way. The top 20 male and female finishers divvy up $8,000 worth of prize money, while the top ladies and gents in each age division receive handmade mosaic medals by artist Mark Patterson.
Those awards are distributed during the run’s all-day after party, where vendors supply free snacks and drinks as live music resounds across the shore. In addition to awards for the race, the after-party includes a presentation of $20,000 in scholarships to local students. Likewise, Surfing Madonna—a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the world’s oceans—donates an additional $20,000 to local beach- and ocean-related projects, which are voted for by race participants.
H2O Trash Patrol has a singular mission: to keep sand and water free of trash. The nonprofit was borne out of a family exercise in picking up debris from the beach, but the influx of garbage was soon too much to keep up with. So H2O Trash Patrol was formed, and its members float atop the waters in and around San Diego county waterways on standup-paddleboards, lampooning marine debris before sorting them and recycling what they can. H2O Trash Patrol's goals are big. Its 50-50-50 challenge aims to clean 50 waterways in 50 states over the course of 50 days, and its efforts have been recognized by the Agua Hedionda Lagoon Foundation, which gave the organization an Environmental Hero Award in 2011.
To raise funds for its mission, H2O Trash Patrol offers standup-paddleboarding lessons to the uninitiated, teaching pupils how to balance, paddle, and maneuver their boards as they cruise on flat water. Lessons traverse the coast at various locales such as Oceanside Harbor, Carlsbad Lagoon, and San Diego Bay.