Students, volunteers and staff of the Santa Barbara School of Squash were honored with a visit from Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider on Sept. 9 at the Santa Barbara Athletic Club.
Mayor Schneider had the opportunity to meet the students on their first day of programming for the 2013-14 academic school year.
Those present at the event included SBSOS President Terry Eagle, Executive Director Debbie Brown, squash director Orla O’Doherty, academic director Vicki Slater and two of the three teams of SBSOS. Mayor Schneider was able to see first-hand how the SBSOS program works and how much it has doing for the youth of low-income families in Santa Barbara. She saw them playing squash, having their academic sessions with volunteer tutors, and the breadth and quality of many role models.
This after-school program, which is equal parts academics and squash, also adds community service to round out the basic programming. Each student is expected to log at least 100 hours of both academics and squash as well as at least 15 hours of community service during the year-round programming.
SBSOS continues to operate during school breaks, on weekends and during the summer. Students also go on academic and culturally enriching outings and they take a yearly summer trip to Yosemite.
“Currently we can only serve a small community of students from low-income families (38 students), but we quite purposely go much deeper into their academics than most after-school programs, which allows us to have such fantastic outcomes,” Brown said.
Mayor Schneider was impressed by the program's mission of making sure that all of their students are college bound, even as most of them would become first in their family to go to college.
The Santa Barbara School of Squash is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit after-school program for students from low-income families in Santa Barbara and Goleta. The sport of squash is used as a catalyst to get students engaged in academics, and participate in community service activities in the community that supports them. The 2013-14 academic year means growth for SBSOS because for the first time, three teams have been created and one of them will be able to utilize the YMCA facilities along with the Santa Barbara Athletic Club and the Westside Community Center.
The Santa Barbara School of Squash directors, volunteer staff and students greatly appreciated the visit from Mayor Schneider and are excited for the new academic year and squash season.
— Liliana Lau represents the Santa Barbara School of Squash.