SM Conservancy’s Youth Program Makes a Big Splash with So. Los Angeles Youngsters at Nick Gabaldón Day 2017 Celebration and Other Field Trips

Youngsters from South Los Angeles hosted by the Santa Monica Conservancy’s Passport to Success LA2017: Life at the Beach Series pilot youth program jubilantly waded in the water, had some fun and learned about history and marine ecology on Saturday, June 3, for the sixth year of the Nick Gabaldón Day celebration at Santa Monica’s Bay Street beach/Inkwell monument. Some of youngsters even took surfing lessons.

Host Phil Brock (r) at the foot of Bay Street in Santa Monica interviewing attendees of Nick Gabaldón Day. The site, recognized as a City of Santa Monica landmark in 2008, and this day’s celebration, commemorates the legacy of Gabaldón and along side the heritage of numerous other people of color who enjoyed this beach site, that struggled for their California dreams of freedom and self-fulfillment during the nation’s Jim Crow era. Gabaldón grew up in Santa Monica, attended Santa Monica College, and is documented as one of the first known surfers of color in the bay city region. Eric Griffin, Director of the Martin Luther King Recreation Center of Los Angeles (l) talks with Brock about the day’s activities.

South Los Angeles youngsters joined other youth hosted by Pacoima Beautiful and Concerned Black Men, and folks from the general public for enjoyment at the day’s event. There were close to 200 participants, made up of mostly youngsters from elementary school to young adulthood, along with event partner organization facilitators and volunteers, and general public supporters.

Eric Griffin, director of Martin Luther King Recreation Center and Alison Rose Jefferson, program coordinator for the SMC’s Passport to Success Beach Series programming lead the coordination and fundraising efforts for the youth participation from parks in South Los Angeles in the beach celebration. Youngsters participating in a day’s field trip were from Martin Luther King Recreation Center, Green Meadows Park and Algin Sutton Park in the South Los Angeles City Council District 8 of Councilman Marqueece Harris-Dawson. Albizeal Del Valle, field deputy for Councilman Harris-Dawson, assisted with funding a bus coach to transport the youngsters, to and from, their South Los Angeles neighborhoods to Santa Monica beach for the full day of activities. Read more here about the Nick Gabaldon Day 2107 event here.

Fun and educational field trips are one of the ways we broaden youngsters’ horizons. When we expose them to different neighborhoods, new experiences and people, they see possibilities that they may not have considered before. The Santa Monica Conservancy, Heal the Bay, the Black Surfers Collective, Surf Academy and other organizations partner on the Nick Gabaldón Day programming to reach out to youngsters in under-served communities to inspire, engage and empower them (and their parents) through meaningful educational programming. We are helping build personal experiences with cultural, historical and nature heritage and civic engagement that are the foundation of stewardship, and the development of the next generation of civic, historic preservation and nature conservation leaders.

This field trip was one of six in 2017, the South Los Angeles youngsters had the opportunity to participate in. The Passport to Success LA20017: Life at the Beach Series program is produced and led by the Santa Monica Conservancy, with Alison Rose Jefferson acting as its coordinator. Support has been provided by Heal the Bay and the California Historical Society. The youngsters have visited Santa Monica as part of the innovative pilot program to connect youngsters learning about local history, heritage conservation/historic preservation, ocean/watershed stewardship, and civic engagement intersecting with beach recreation. We also are offering the youngsters a view to connecting with future career opportunity possibilities.

Read about the South Los Angeles youngsters and their experiences with participating in Nick Gabaldón Day celebration on June 3 here. You can also read about the youngsters participation in another field trip on July 6 arranged by SMC that in in addition to visiting Santa Monica’s Bay Street beach/Inkwell monument, took them to a restored shotgun style house and the Pascual Marquez family rancho burial ground here.

The Santa Monica Conservancy is a 501(c)(3) public charity dedicated to promoting widespread understanding and appreciation of the cultural, social, economic and environmental benefits of historic preservation. One of the organization’s goals is to educate school age children about the importance of historic places like Santa Monica’s Bay Street/Inkwell monument, and about why they are important to preserve and remember.

Youngsters from South Los Angeles parks giving the bay a big hug, posing with a replica of the painting of Nick Gabaldón by artist Richard Wyatt used as part of the welcome and on land paddle out ceremony. Adults pictured, standing, left to right: Eric Griffin, director of Martin Luther King Jr. Recreation Center; Albizeal Del Valle, field deputy for Councilman Marqueece Harris-Dawson, Michael Blum, author of the Malibu Historic District National Register Listing Nomination; Alison Rose Jefferson, historian and coordinator of Santa Monica Conservancy’s youth program; Effie Turnbull Sanders, California Coastal Commissioner; Shelley Luce, CEO of Heal the Bay; and Tom Ford, executive director of The Bay Foundation. Front row, kneeling: Meredith McCarthy, programming director, Heal the Bay, led the big hug for the bay. Photography by Elizabeth Espinoza, MLK Rec Center.

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