By Bryan Brown, Project Leader, Comcast NBCUniversal Civic Engagement Team
City Year was fortunate to once again partner with Comcast, one of our largest national champions, for their 12th annual day of service across America. Here in Los Angeles, we worked with 400 Comcast and NBCUniversal volunteers to transform Barack Obama Global Preparation Academy in South LA.
The day kicked off in true LA fashion with a musical performance by Jessarae, son of NHL star Luc Robitaille. Jessarae’s upbeat pop got the energy flowing early, as some of the younger volunteers joined him on stage to dance. Bob Greenblatt, Chairman of NBC Entertainment and City Year Los Angeles Board Member, welcomed the volunteers along with Steve Carlston, President and General Manager of KNBC and Steve Dolcemaschio, President of Wilshire Studios. We were also joined by Fred Maahs, Comcast’s Director of Community Investment, National Partnerships and VP of the Comcast Foundation, who presented City Year Los Angeles and the American Heart Association Teaching Gardens with $15,000 and $10,000 checks respectively to support our work in schools throughout LA.
After the opening ceremony, the volunteers got to work on the 15 murals we prepared across the school’s campus. A gigantic mural now spans the side of the building that students first see upon entering campus, welcoming them all to the school. Around the corner, colorful fruits line the lunch area, and out on the yard splashes of color and sports symbols cover the handball courts.
The busiest area of the day was the school’s three-story classroom building. On the ground floor, historical figures such as Martin Lither King, Jr., Gandhi, and Abraham Lincoln were painted next to a few of their inspirational quotes. Up a level, depictions of various careers for students to consider –from architect to zoologist – were put along the hall. Finally, on the top level, volunteers filled the walls with silhouettes of graduates, interspersed with words encouraging students to dream, believe, and achieve.
Volunteers also planted edible gardens, a project that was carried out in collaboration with the American Heart Association Teaching Gardens. Teaching Gardens Co-founder Kelly Meyer also provided every student at Barack Obama Global Prep Academy with their very own Teaching Gardens Take Home Kit.
Shortly after noon, as volunteers rested in the shade and enjoyed their lunch, they marveled at how much they had transformed the school in just a few hours. Barack Obama Global Prep’s Assistant Principal, Mr. Santamaria, was overjoyed at what his students would arrive to see on Monday. The murals around him stood as proof of a Helen Keller quote he shared that morning: “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”