Home Coyote Spotlight Coyotes Rally At-Risk Youth of Desert Strength Academy

Coyotes Rally At-Risk Youth of Desert Strength Academy


(INDIO) — Footballs filled the skies as cornerback Ridge Turner, running back Warren Matthews, quarterback and league MVP Michael Karls and defensive captain Cedric Cox offered encouragement, hope and direction Tuesday to the at-risk youth of Desert Strength Academy (DSA).

The SoCal Coyotes sports leadership organization hit the field for DSA’s summer program, leading ‘team stretch’ and coaching four youth flag football teams. Afterward, the players shared personal stories, highlights and the heralded Coyote Leadership Curriculum . Numerous cadets discovered they had the qualities to be leaders in their homes, schools and communities. 

“Show me your friends, and I’ll show you your future” – that was the recurring theme form head coach J David Miller and his players.

Open Q & A discussion centered around life, choices, thoughts and actions that prevent ‘one second of stupid’ from becoming a ‘lifetime of regret.’

In one week, the Desert Strength Academy will help nearly 40 at-risk middle school students find the right path.

“There were a lot of smiles on the field today,” said Riverside County Deputy District Attorney, Douglas Gee.

The summer camp is part of Riverside County’s six-month Youth Accountability Team program. Most of the volunteers who work at the camp also work in law enforcement. They range from police officers to district attorneys.

“Most of these kids have experienced negative things with officers, whether it be out in the field or us responding to their homes and dealing with their parents,” said Cathedral City Police Officer, Heather Olsen.

“This is a positive experience for them.”
The theme of this year’s camp is bridging the gap between the at-risk youth and the law.

“We’re trying to figure out how to build positive relationships between the two different groups and let them understand what we’re thinking and how we approach situations,” said Deputy Probation Officer, Adrian Olvera.

“We’re not against them. We’re here to enrich their lives.”

Besides the three-time champion SoCal Coyotes professional football team, other speakers included dynamic Riverside County Deputy District Attorney, Michael Tripp, who specifically addressed gang prevention.

“What we really want them to understand is the decisions they make, the friends they make are really going to have ramifications beyond their teenage years,” he said.
Statistics show the program works.

“We have a 75 to 80 percent success rate,” concluded Gee. “That’s 75 to 80 percent of kids that go through the camp will not have any contact with law enforcement again.”

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