The NFL Impact Program was designed to combat these sobering statistics in five Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) middle school sites: Foshay Learning Center, Edwin Markham Middle School, John Adams Middle School, Samuel Gompers Middle School, and Audobon Middle School. These schools were selected because each has a partnership with EOPC who will, over the academic year, track participants looking for improvement in grades, test scores, behavior in school, and college awareness. Results from these analyses will then be compared to statistics from the surrounding community or used as evidence on their own.
The NFL Impact Program began with a seven-hour a day, five-day week, four-week multidimensional summer camp — a partnership between the University of Southern California (USC) and the National Football League (NFL Junior Player Development). It offered a well-balanced program using small, cooperative learning teams, involvement of positive role models, and mentoring to address the particular academic, social, and athletic needs of at-risk youngsters. Credentialed teachers from the Los Angeles Unified School district, mentors from USC and other universities, and coaches from the local area, through a healthy combination of enrichment classes in reading, math, science and life skills, and football education, gave each participant the tools to develop a positive outlook on life, improved self-image, self-confidence and a set of values that will serve them in becoming contributing members of society. The program ended with kids from some of the roughest neighborhoods in South Los Angeles, coming to campus each day, anxious to see new friends, excited to perform both in the classroom and on the playing field.
Beyond the typical week structure and activities, additional enrichment outings
introduced the boys to experiences away from campus and opportunities to see and do things unavailable to them in their own communities.
- Dockweilder Beach in El Segundo, California — While many of the students had been to a beach before, most had not visited this particular beach located near Los Angeles International Airport. For two boys, this was their first beach experience. Participants were bused to the beach after lunch, and spent the afternoon swimming and playing in the ocean, digging and searching for seashells, and burying one another up to their necks in the sand. When leaving the beach, many of the boys begged to go back to the beach next week, and in fact, wanted to learn more about the career of being a lifeguard. As one student stated, “… if all I have to do is sit at the beach all day, I could do that!”
- Long Beach Aquarium, in Long Beach, California – Turner Construction Company, funded this brand new experience for the students. The boys walked through aquarium exhibits inquiring about information of aquarium staff and reflecting on the question of which underwater creature they would be if given a choice. The boys were able to feed stingrays, fish, and other underwater creatures. After their time in the Aquarium, they picnicked outside with lunches provided by USC and listened to an informative talk given by engineers with Turner Construction about different careers in the field of engineering. This brief introduction to career paths elicited the one student, Fidel Martinez, to remark: “Football’s cool and all, but engineering… now that is where I can make a lot of money.”