At-risk youths find inner PRIDE

first_imgPICO RIVERA – Towering over the 22 middle school children clamoring around him, two-time Super Bowl winning team member James Washington patiently signed each football eagerly shoved his way. The former Dallas Cowboys defensive back was at the sheriff’s Pico Rivera Station this weeknight to volunteer in the new gang prevention program nicknamed PRIDE – a “scared straight”-style approach that also focuses on presenting positive alternatives to kids. Begun five weeks ago by sheriff’s Pico Rivera Station officials and local clergy, the Pico Rivera Individual Development in Ethics Program (PRIDE) already has parents clamoring to enroll their children. The Rotary Club is offering full funding for the first 9-week session. The program targets kids between the ages of 12 and 15 who have “dabbled in drugs and graffiti” but are not actual gang members yet, said Sgt. Steve Sanchez, one of the program’s founders. “These are kids who are teetering on the edge of getting into the gang life,” said Sanchez, who started the program with no money. “We want to show them, not only the consequences of those choices, but the alternative. We want to show them a hopeful future.” Sanchez said the program’s structure focuses the first few weeks on the consequences of “poor choices” and the remaining weeks on the possibilities available from making “good choices.” One field trip took the kids to jail, where they were given orange jump suits, handcuffed and put into cells. Another outing introduced them to Skid Row. But by far, the visit to the county morgue was the most attention-grabbing field trip, youngsters said. Seeing dead bodies up close, with their bluish-gray tinge and their 10-cent toe tags, really “freaked out” 14-year-old Gabriel Palafox. Among others, the children saw a male gang member who had died of a gunshot wound to the head and a dead “crack baby” whose mother had died of a drug overdose, said Sanchez. “I felt something weird inside,” said Palafox, who earned his first `A’ and found a new interest in reading since starting PRIDE. “I saw the doctor pulling the heart out of a guy’s chest. I never seen anything like it. “You might not be able to see it really, but I want to study all of a sudden,” he added, shrugging. Thirteen-year-old Serina Roldan said the sight and smell of the dead definitely scared her from risking such a grisly end. “It taught me a lesson,” she said. “The man told us the toe tags cost 10 cents each. So you gotta think, is your life only worth 10 cents?” After signing the footballs, Washington spoke about his brushes with gang life growing up in Watts 30 years ago. Washington, 42, spoke skillfully to the eighth-grade audience, using examples and humor they understood, jokingly imitating what he knew the children were thinking about “yet another old cat” telling them he understood their lives. After the state took Washington away from his mother at age 4, he was raised by his grandmother. Eventually he took to running the streets with his five best “partners,” all of whom are either dead or in jail now. “Along the way they made choices,” Washington said. “I chose education. You guys are at a crossroads. You have a second chance to make better choices.” Washington said he plans to be “physically involved” in the program, not just offering an endorsement or money. pam.wight@sgvn.com (562) 698-0955, Ext. 3029160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img

Donegal doll company Lottie signs up with Penguin Books!

first_imgDonegal company Lottie Dolls has signed a major agreement with one of the world’s biggest book companies, Penguin Books. The company, which is based at the CoLab in Letterkenny, has announced they will now become part of the Puffin collection at Penguin, Lottie and Finn’s adventures to be expanded by the world-famous publisher.Lottie Dolls, are award winning dolls created to empower children to be themselves, to be imaginative, adventurous and most of all to have fun!Arklu have recognised how precious childhood is, and with growing societal pressures, how short it can be. Arklu have made it their mission to protect childhood and inspire learning through play with Lottie, Finn and friends.The brand are excited to announce that they will now become part of the Puffin collection at Penguin, Lottie and Finn’s adventures to be expanded by the world-famous publisher. Ballybofey man Ian Harkin, Managing Director and Co-Founder of Arklu, Lottie Dolls, said  “Our vision of childhood is simple, we dream of a place where kids can be kids, where the great outdoors is there to be explored, where curiosity-led discoveries and imagination run wild and where the only limit is bedtime!Ian Harkin, CEO of Lottie Dolls“Childhood should be an inclusive place for every girl and boy, and our publishing deal with Puffin at Penguin will be a perfect extension of our message! We are delighted to be in the company of much-loved authors such as Roald Dahl, Jeff Kinney (Diary of a wimpy Kid) and Jacqueline Wilson, and are excited to announce our partnership with the enthusiastic team at Penguin.”At play with LottieLeanne Gill, Publisher of Licensed Properties at Penguin Random House Children’s, who acquired the publishing deal with the brand, said they are delighted to be the publishing partner for Lottie Dolls.“At Penguin Children’s, we, of course, share Lottie’s love of reading, but also her passion for inspiring exploration, creativity and individuality and a desire to promote positive role models for children. We can’t wait to bring Lottie to a wider audience through our fiction and activity books launching in summer 2017.”Leanne has negotiated a three year term for the contract with Penguin Random House Children’s; with the Penguin Random House Rights team showcasing initial plans for the Lottie Dolls books in Frankfurt this October. The partnership is due to launch with two titles in May 2017; one being a fiction title for young readers, and one a sticker dressing-up book, which will be focused on stargazing and space.A further two titles will then follow in September 2017 – again, one fiction, one activity book (format/concept to be confirmed). Penguin Random House Children’s are dedicated bringing the quality and individuality of the dolls into their publishing range, and create really special books that readers will treasure.A massive achievement for the Donegal based start-up, who this year celebrated having a doll in space, and winning Google’s Adopt a Start-Up competition, Lottie and Finn were recently stocked in Arnotts, Dublin and extend their thanks to Donegal people for their support to date. Donegal doll company Lottie signs up with Penguin Books! was last modified: October 14th, 2016 by StephenShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Tags:donegalLottie dollsPenguin bookslast_img read more