700 N. Alameda Street
Compton, CA 90221
301 Willowbrook Avenue
Compton, CA 90220
At a Glance
• Programs: Computer training, dancing, tutoring, boxing, mentoring, BEAR, basketball, soccer
• Wish List Includes: New boxing ring
Compton YAL Aims High Athletically and Academically
The Compton Youth Activities League has one pretty simple — but ambitious — goal for the youths it serves: Excellence.
“The Compton YAL stands as a place youths can come on a daily basis not just to ‘get off the streets,’ but to excel in their education, play sports, and build self-confidence,” Deputy Abi Ben-Sahile says of the YAL that serves approximately 70 youths daily.
The Compton YAL has five sporting or physical activity programs running on a daily basis. But the goal of the center is not only teaching and playing sports. The center is also heavily focused on education, as all children attend a daily tutoring class or reading club. The philosophy is to support families and the community’s youth — and there are no fees for children to participate.
The program gets results. For example, 13-year-old Diondre Hester, the youngest of five children, was introduced to the YAL at age 8 by his cousin. At the time, his grades were low and he was not physically active. He had lost a brother to gang violence, and his mother, concerned about his future, was grateful to have a resource like the YAL.
Diondre enrolled in the YAL’s boxing program and took advantage of the YAL’s tutoring, which helped improve his reading and turn his grades around. In the ensuing years he has grown into a disciplined young man who remains active in boxing, goes to the YAL daily and has become more self-confident.
In 2011, when he received the Compton YAL’s Youth of the Year Award, he was even profiled in a local newspaper, the Compton Bulletin.
“I want to be a professional boxer when I grow up,” Diondre told the newspaper. “I watch boxing on TV with my family and I know that’s what I want to do.”
The Compton YAL takes a well-rounded approach in helping youths like Diondre not just to get by, but to achieve at high levels, both physically and academically.
“The greatest value the Compton YAL brings to the community is a good clean environment that youths can come to, and excel in,” Ben-Sahile says. “Some after-school programs are limited, and others only target sports. But the Compton YAL targets sports, education, and mentorship. I believe this combination is what makes the center great.”
Success Story: YAL Fills a Void, Helps Garcia Excel
Maria Garcia says the Compton Youth Activities League has been like a second home to her, and it’s a good thing it has — because she’s needed one.
“When I was 4, my mom walked out on us because of some conflict my mom and my dad had,” says Garcia, 15. “And ever since then I have had difficulty at school.”
Her grades were low, and she struggled emotionally with her mother’s departure. But, she says, the Compton YAL helped her turn things around. She’s now developed into a leader of her peers at the YAL, says Deputy Abi Ben-Sahile, and she was honored as the Compton YAL’s 2012 Youth of the Year.
“She suffered some hardships while growing up, but she overcame and excelled,” Ben-Sahile says. “Maria is at the Compton YAL every day, and she enjoys all the programs offered there.”
Garcia says the YAL has meant even more to her than a place to go after school for activities and homework help — it’s become a valuable support system.
“The YAL has helped me through this difficulty because of the loss of my mom,” Garcia says. “It’s been hard. And the teachers and staff there, they have supported me — and it feels like I have a mom there.”