The First Step

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Reach Out, a network of school clubs focused toward helping the underprivileged kids of Santa Ana, began with a dream.

Since my AP English 4 class has been circulating around innovation ideas, I feel like this is something worth sharing.  As of last year, this has been my self-directed, self-motivated “innovation project.”  To give a small introduction about the club, Reach Out works face-to-face with kids of Santa Ana.  Because of lot of these kids grow up in bad neighborhoods, surrounded by poverty, crime, and violence, Reach Out (in partnership with KidWorks, the foundation we work under), strives to expose kids to the world outside the limits of their neighborhoods.  To accomplish this, Reach Out members provide a variety of activities in which we incorporate life lessons in high hopes that they can use these skills throughout their lives to help steer them in the right direction.

The idea of Reach Out bloomed the summer before my junior year when my friend Ryan texted me one afternoon asking if I was interested in meeting with him about a club pitch he wanted to share with me.  Although Ryan and I go to different schools and hadn’t been familiar with working with each other since middle school, I agreed to help him.

We met shortly thereafter in a local Starbucks, and there, he presented the idea of Reach Out.  Immediately, I was intrigued and enticed, full of ideas swimming around my head because so badly I wanted this to work.  It seemed like a huge idea that needed so much work and so many details ironed out, but I felt like we could make it happen.

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After throwing everything out onto the table, I went to work.  I got my friend Toan involved and together we rounded up a few of our most motivated and hard-working friends.  We compiled constitutions, networked to get more people interested, worked out kinks with our KidWorks volunteer coordinators, and so much more.  Reach Out was soon approved as an official FVHS school club.

I believe that my work in Reach Out has not only helped the kids of Santa Ana, but it’s also allowed me to grow as a person.  I know that line’s kind of overused, but I think having Reach Out in my life has really opened my eyes because I’ve been given the chance to see how much I could really accomplish.  I remember sitting at the Starbucks table back before everything and dreaming about this tiny little idea in the back of our heads coming to life–becoming vibrant and impacting and real.

Working with the kids once a week (when we were scheduled to come in) has become something I love preparing for and getting to do.  Because our schedule follows “themed cycles,” it really gives the board and myself to release our creativity when it comes to what activities to coordinate, making activities more fun, what materials to use, how we teach.

“How can we make this better?” is always the central question.

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In the long run, I think Reach Out has made me more inspired to put myself out there and succeed.  I am inspired when I see all the hard work we put into the club come together to produce something incredible.  It makes me want to achieve more, be even more proud of myself, and take what I can attain to new heights.  And it makes me want to share the inspiration, to encourage others to make a difference in something that needs the change.  And most importantly, innovation!

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