Debbie Foley has been one of our most tireless workers, and has been leading the Bible club tent, as well as leading Bible clubs herself and through many helpers all over the community. This last Saturday, she was playing with some of the children by hopping over some benches. Well, she didn’t make it over one, and came down on her arm and broke it, as well as dislocated it. She will require surgery to set it.
Due to a series of insurance delays, she STILL has not had it set in a cast, and is not expected to get it set until next week. She is having some pain. Please pray for a quick resolution to all of this, comfort, and miraculous healing!
We published a video a couple weeks ago that showed some younger students playing sports during recess as a result of the organization and leadership of some of our high school students. (Link to our video)
Little over a month ago, an article was published in the Mercury News reporting on the film submission of 14 youth from East Palo Alto to Cinequest’s “Picture the Possibilities” project (Link to Mercury News article). The project included submissions from youth from all over the world, from “Beijing to Mexico City to New York” and the article describes how the documentary made by the youth from East Palo Alto “struck the most powerful chord” by showing youth talking about violence in their neighborhood and their simple desire for a safe place to skateboard. You can watch the video below:
In more than a couple ways, the video above with its discussion of the effect of violence on youth, stands in a stark contrast to our own which shows kids playing sports and having fun. For us at RYAA the disconnection highlights the need for what we do: providing safe, positive and healthy activities for youth while walking alongside them in whatever situation they find themselves in. The children and youth of East Palo Alto deserve safe and constructive environments that equip them to be tomorrow’s leaders.
Sometimes it is easy to doubt what kind of impact we are having on somebody’s life. But I know that God will use every seed sown to reap some good fruit for His kingdom. A couple of weeks ago we posted comments from Cesar Chavez Academy Principal Amika Maria Maran Guillaume. She spoke of how great it was to see the youth being raised up as leaders in their community.
One great example is Dana, who you can see in the picture is doing a great job as a leader/big brother/coach. Two other pictures show our children having a great time playing flag football and having a race! We give thanks to God for what He is doing in our community both in and through our youth. We also pray God will raise up more leaders so that programs like these can grow and expand to serve more youth.
This past week youth from a local high schools came to Cesar Chavez Academy and helped put on sports programming during recess. This was a true blessing because the equipment and organized nature of the sports is something unfamiliar to the school. We join Amika in commending our young leaders and their efforts!
Having Shannon and RYAA high school volunteers these past two days of benchmark testing has been a blessing and gives me a taste of what recess can be, when there are organized games and sports to keep kids engaged. I wish I could film it. It’s really impressive seeing high school kids on spring break – giving their time and being engaging in this way – really great leaders for our community . If you see it, it can give you goosebumps!
Amika Maria Maran Guillaume
Principal, CesarChavezAcademy & Green Oaks Academy
I wanted to share a quick story about indoor soccer last night. We were short-staffed, so I had to coach the 4 and 5 year olds (which, actually, I love to do!) Usually, in the middle of indoor soccer, we stop and have a short Bible lesson taught by my daughter and some girls from our teenage girls club.
Eight o’clock rolled around, and they weren’t there. As time went on, some of the parents started asking if we were going to have the club. I was expecting the kids to ask, but the parents were the ones who were asking. I was surprised. I sometimes wonder if parents think we are imposing on the time with our half-time Bible lessons. I couldn’t be more wrong.
The Bible club teachers finally arrived, and all the children moved to the center of the court for the lesson. It was great to see how much they concentrated on the lesson. They were really in to it.
After the lesson, I turned my back and called out to start the soccer games again. When I turned back around, there was a big circle or kids around the Bible club teachers. I called again and no one moved. I had forgotten that the children could recite last week’s Bible verse for a small prize. They all wanted to do it. It was another 10 minutes before I could get the soccer games going again. Thank you Lord for reminding me that people really ARE hungry for your Word!
A little over a week ago, God blessed the RYAA community with a generous gift of support by Louis Zamperini given through Menlo Park Presbyterian church. We praise God for this gift and intend to use it to further our goal of building character, families, and faith. We also commend Louis Zamperini and Menlo Park Presbyterian Church for their faithfulness in working towards transforming our community for Christ.
Mr. Zamperini’s story is quite extraordinary because his life was transformed by sports and by the gospel. First as a youth, sports helped deliver Louis from his troubled life by giving him a constructive outlet. Instead of continuing to get into fights – he transformed that energy to running and shortly thereafter he became an Olympian. Years later, Louis would become a war hero during WWII as he survived terrible conditions and torture beyond all imagination. However, even after these successes, something was still missing for Louis and his life was on the wrong track. That is, until one fateful day when Louis began a personal relationship with Jesus Christ as a result of finding God at a Billy Graham tent meeting. Louis said his life was “revolutionized in a moment.” Since then Louis has been living the gospel and seeking to help others do the same.
We intend to use this gift in a way that honors God by enhancing our programs that teach dignity and responsibility in the context of sports by the power of the gospel. Our prayer is that many youth lives will be transformed by the power of the gospel and will in turn be inspired to become tomorrow’s leaders who will continue to generously give to their communities.
[See below for a news story to learn more about Louis Zamperini’s life]