Olympic Dreams Now in Reach For Tenderloin Youth

By Cheryl Hurd
|  Monday, Feb 22, 2010  |  Updated 4:36 PM PDT
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Olympic Dreams Now in Reach For Tenderloin Youth

Cheryl Hurd

Every night, Elizabeth Ayala watches the winter Olympics.  From her home in San Francisco's Tenderloin District, she has dreams of becoming a gold medal figure skater.

Elizabeth says she is rooting for her personal hero, Rachael Flatt, a 17-year-old from California who is ranked fifth in the world

Elizabeth hopes to one day follow her on the ice all the way to the Olympics.   There is a Bay Area group that has the same goal.

Oakland's Team-Up for Youth is an organization that works with community centers and neighborhood groups and Elizabeth is one of its clients.  The Bay Area Women's and Children's Center hooked Elizabeth up with Team-Up for Youth.

"We are an organization that helps low income youth realize their dreams," Janet Carter said.

Carter is the executive director of the program.  She says middle class parents have the ability to expose their children to sports and drive them around to different sporting events.  That's not a luxury low shared by income parents.

"A lot of low income children go to schools where there are no sports programs.  Our organization can fill in the gap for them," Carter said.

Like so many other teens who engage in sports, Elizabeth's mother says skating has improved her daughter's performance in school, attitude, concentration and self-esteem.

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