Koreatown Youth Build Bridges at LA Boulders

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We’re lucky at LA Boulders: Not only are we situated in Los Angeles’ incredible Downtown Arts District, but we’re super close to other rad neighborhoods like Koreatown, where we can get to know some of the folks who make our community strong and vibrant. Amongst those people are the Koreatown Youth and Community Center (KYCC), who we were thrilled to host for a day of climbing late last month.

KYCC was established in 1975 to support a growing population of at-risk youth in Los Angeles. Today, KYCC is the leading multi-service organization in Koreatown, supporting children and their families in education, health, housing, and finances. KYCC believes that if the family is healthy, our community will thrive. KYCC is committed to making Koreatown a safe and beautiful place to live and work.

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The mission of KYCC is to serve the evolving needs of the Korean American population in the greater Los Angeles area as well as the multiethnic Koreatown community. Their programs and services are directed toward recently immigrated, economically disadvantaged youth and families, and promote socioeconomic community empowerment.

Among their many programs, like the Gang Reduction Youth Development Program and Youth Drug Abuse Prevention Program, is Bridge, a middle and high school volunteer program designed to bring together youth volunteers and elementary school students at the KYCC community center. The volunteers mentor and tutor the younger students by helping them with their homework and joining them for other enrichment activities. Over the summer, Bridge students volunteer for 15 hours per week and help the KYCC staff run their all-day summer program, as well as regularly volunteer for community events such as KYCC’s Annual Holiday Carnival and community clean ups. Not only are the Bridge student volunteers incredible youth leaders, but it turns out that they’re pretty good at climbing, too!

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It’s always a pleasure introducing new people to climbing, but the Bridge students were especially great to be around. Watching them tackle each problem with such gusto and utilize their leadership skills to help one another get to the top embodied the best aspects of climbing with friends. Every volunteer was kind to our staff and was great to get to know.

Kevin, a 13-year-old who enjoys being active, said that LA.B gave him an opportunity to expose himself to a new sport. When asked about the experience Kevin said, “I had a good time and enjoyed climbing with my friends.”

Gustavo, a 16-year-old who hadn’t had the opportunity to explore activities outside of his comfort zone, was somewhat hesitant toward the idea of bouldering at the beginning of the session. Once he was at the gym he took on a natural leadership role and started to motivate and teach others how to climb. At the end of the day, Gustavo was happy to have had the chance to climb: “I’m glad I changed my mind. I want to come back again and try the harder ones.”

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Some of the Bridge members learned new things about themselves, too. “I’ve always thought that I wasn’t scared of heights, but it turns out I’m really scared of heights,” Esther said. “Climbing was a very good ‘self’ activity. I learned to push myself harder and have courage. I had others helping me get up the wall. I recommend rock climbing for everyone.”

But maybe what made us happiest was to hear that climbing at LA.B brought the kids a little closer to one another: “Rock climbing was a great experience where I got to bond with my fellow Bridge members,” said Kevin, “I got closer to people who I wasn’t very close to. I don’t get to see other volunteers very often, so this was a great chance to bond and get to know each other. The rock climbing was fun too. Overall, it was a great experience.”

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Seeing each of the students try their best at something new, conquer their fear of heights and support each other gave us hope for the future: The kids are all right. Thank you so much for brightening up the gym, KYCC Bridge! It was a pleasure to have you.

To find out more about our outreach programs, contact Holly at (323) 406-9119.