MAKING A DIFFERENCE
LOS ANGELES — Caylin Moore was struggling. His mother, facing unrelenting physical and emotional abuse from his father, was forced to flee their home with him and his siblings.
Then, there was the day-to-day reality of living in a new neighborhood, which was plagued by gang violence, drugs and poverty. Life was starting to wear on him.
Wanting him to have something positive to focus on, his mother signed him up to play football with the Falcons Youth and Family Services, a grantee recipient of the LA84 Foundation. He became a star player on his high school’s football team. He began to excel academically and would go on to receive scholarships to play football at Marist College and Texas Christian University and be named both a Fulbright and Rhodes Scholar.
Moore credits the Falcons with preparing him for life through the power of sports and teaching him how to give back to his community.
“Being involved in sports expands and enriches your life,” Moore said. “You serve a purpose. You keep burning the torch.”
Moore is just one of the thousands of youth, ages 6-18, who have benefited from their relationship with organizations funded by the LA84 Foundation.
Created to keep the spirit of the 1984 Olympic Games alive, LA84 Foundation is a nationally recognized leader in support of youth sport programs and public education about the role of sports in youth development. The foundation supports thousands of Southern California youth sports organizations through grant making, while also training coaches, commissioning research, convening conferences and acting as a national thought leader on important youth sports issues.
However, what the organization is most proud of is its work to level the playing field so that sport is accessible to all children no matter who they are or where they live.
“There is a national crisis, hiding in plain sight because not all youth have equal access to sports,” said Renata Simril, president and CEO of the foundation. “There is a widening chasm that separates the haves and have nots from the simple opportunities to engage in that overlooked human right of playing, moving, exercising.
“LA84 levels the playing field so that sport is accessible to all children, while elevating the field of youth sports as an integral part of American life.”
The foundation also encourages participants to be leaders in their communities. Its youth advisory group, The “SAMbassadors,” was created to actively involve youth in the work of the foundation and to foster an ongoing dialogue on the systemic barriers to healthy play and to encourage youth to seek workforce opportunities beyond being a professional athlete while the foundation’s annual youth summit addresses the contributions that youth sports, structured play, and physical activity make to their success in school and life.
As well as offering its financial support to nonprofit organizations, the foundation offers programs that provide pathways for youth to participate in sports. The Summer Splash Program provides basic instruction and competitive opportunities in four aquatic sports: swimming, diving, water polo and artistic swimming at Los Angeles City and County public pools.
Its Run4Fun program, which is conducted in cooperation with several Los Angeles area school districts, is designed to provide a sports/fitness opportunity for middle school boys and girls. Additionally, the foundation will soon launch a new initiative titled Golf4All to grow interest in the game of golf by creating greater access to the game.
The foundation believes that its comprehensive “Play for All” model is a movement that not only helps them connect with youth, but allows them to engage the larger community in finding solutions to the equity crisis in youth sports opportunities.
“Talent is universal; however, opportunity is not,” Simril said. “Through integrated strategies that leverage existing program partnerships, we engage stakeholders on the periphery of sport in thought leadership so more people can understand the role sport plays in positive youth development and the overall well-being of the community.”
Leader: Renata Simril
Title: President & CEO
Social Media: @renataangeleno @la84foundation
By Angela N. Parker