Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Marina Station Capt. Mary Campbell has requested that a Sheriff’s Youth Foundation Marina del Rey Youth Activities League (YAL) be instituted by the program’s coordinator, Connie Cervantes.

Cervantes, program coordinator for the County of Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department Sheriff’s Youth Foundation, presented information on the program to the Marina Sheriff’s Station Community Advisory Committee at a meeting on Monday, June 25th at the Del Rey Yacht Club in Marina del Rey.

Cervantes said she “was thrilled” when Campbell called and asked her to implement the program locally, which would include Marina del Rey, Ladera Heights and Windsor Hills.

The Youth Activities League provides educational tutoring, computer training, cultural field trips, sports activities and character-building tasks for “at-risk” youngsters ages eight to 17, according to Cervantes.

Deputies run the centers and mentor the children in various programs, such as baseball, basketball, soccer, flag football, overnight camping, libraries, academic tutoring, track, boxing, martial arts, volleyball, soap box derby, dancing, computer labs, cultural trips, tennis and fencing.

“These children, some for the first time, enjoy a positive relationship with law enforcement, in addition to finding a sense of belonging with caring adults and other children in their age group during the hours of the day that most juvenile crimes occur (3 to 7 p.m.),” states Youth Activities League documentation.

The focus for the programs is on vulnerable children in junior high school, who may be at home with no one to supervise them and with nothing to do, lacking motivation, and susceptible to drugs, gangs and Internet predators, said Cervantes.

This program is also a reward for children doing well who may be ignored, and Cervantes said the program wants local teachers to refer children that might need tutoring or who have a parent unable to read and help their children with homework.

The program is there to help these children before they become involved in juvenile crimes or inappropriate activities, and while Marina del Rey doesn’t seem outwardly to have these problems, there are a number of children who do need assistance with schoolwork, who are home alone, and would greatly benefit from having these positive reinforcements in their lives, said Cervantes.

Each year, a dinner is held for the program participants at which they speak about how their lives have been affected by the program, Cervantes said.

Cervantes said she had signed her children up for the program when they were young and that she personally learned a great deal and saw law enforcement from a totally different perspective.

The Sheriff’s Youth Foundation (SYF) was created in 1985, based on the belief that crime prevention programs focused on youths are the key to developing safer communities, providing a safe, supportive haven for Los Angeles County youths where they can interact with positive role models, including law enforcement officers, receiving life guidance, factual information, tutoring and participating in after-school and esteem-building activities, said Cervantes.

The program is also seeking contributors and volunteers, since the programs don’t rely solely on taxpayer support, but depend on funding and in-kind contributions from private foundations, corporations, small businesses, schools, concerned individuals, sheriff’s deputies and their families and the County of Los Angeles and local municipalities, according to program officials.

Campbell said that contributions for her husband’s retirement party — Doyle Campbell, former assistant sheriff to Sheriff Lee Baca — will go to the newly created Marina del Rey Youth Activities League.

The retirement party will be held Thursday, August 2nd, at the Ritz-Carlton Marina del Rey. Tickets are $80, and tables of ten may be sponsored for either $2,500 or $1,500.

Drinks will be served from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m., with dinner at 6:30 p.m.

Doyle Campbell will become the chief deputy chief administrative officer to David Janssen, chief executive officer of Los Angeles County, said Campbell.

Individuals interested in volunteering for basketball coach, computer lab instructor, boxing instructor, martial arts instructor, teachers aide or tutoring aide should contact the Marina del Rey Youth Activity League at 5357 Centinela Ave., Los Angeles 90045, (310) 410-7600.

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