At A Place Called Home, we’re passionate about instilling good health practices in the lives of kids and their families. Young people need to run, play, and exercise in a safe space. Most kids thrive in this kind of environment — whether it’s competitive or just for fun. But here’s the reality we’re facing: most schools in South Central Los Angeles don’t have the resources to offer physical education classes. Many families can’t afford everything needed for competitive sports, and many neighborhood parks simply aren’t safe to play in.
Lack of daily exercise impacts a child’s physical development, increasing their risk of obesity and other health problems. A Place Called Home provides a robust array of athletic opportunities that are impacting hundreds of boys and girls throughout our community!
We spoke with our Athletics Program Lead, Darrell Bryson. Here’s what he has to say.
Why are you passionate about serving the kids and families at A Place Called Home through athletics?
Darrell: “My family has a rich history in sports and coaching. After an injury, I focused more on coaching in public schools and private schools. I got invested in working with kids, not only developing them as great athletes, but as great people. About nine years ago, I was working as a contractor with an organization that provided coaching to underprivileged kids. That’s what brought me to A Place Called Home. I could see that it was different here.
“I really connected with the members. I just loved the environment. It’s a special place. And, it truly is a place to call home. Everyone cares about one another.”
What does athletics programming look like at APCH?
Darrell: “We have two avenues to our program. One is our recreational wellness program, which is more about exposure for members. It gives them opportunities to explore different sports and athletic disciplines to help them find their athletic path.
“They learn basic skills, but also what athletics can do for them in the long run — whether on the field, the basketball court, the classroom, or even in life.
“We not only encourage participants to be great athletes, but to be great people. To learn how to think and always give 100% to everything they do. Within our recreational wellness program, we also identify individuals who have a talent for a specific sport and encourage them to join one of our sports league teams.
“And that’s the other avenue to our athletics program, our sports league team. We’re a partner of the South Central Sports League. It’s a chance for kids to experience competition, but it’s competition with a family vibe. This is where we can train the kids to get ready to compete for their high school and college teams. So we hold regular practices and coaching talks. We also do weight training. It’s a great atmosphere for the kids to learn, grow, and spend time with one another.”
Why are athletics so important for kids and young people?
Darrell: “Athletics definitely builds strong character and strong people. It’s all about positivity, as well, especially how our kids treat people. At A Place Called Home, we have R.E.A.C.H values: Respect, Empathy, Accountability, Courage, and Hope.
“Athletics helps us instill these values into each child. Kids have the chance to find themselves and build the lives they want, whether through developing different aspects of their personalities or learning to navigate relationships, school, and other areas of life.
“Athletics challenges our boys and girls to dream big, to have the courage and determination to pursue their dreams, and to push themselves to be the best version of themselves. Athletics also helps them understand balance because our kids are also students. We do everything we can to help the kids know themselves, know their potential, and know their limits so they can maintain a healthy balance.”
What’s been an extremely rewarding experience for you as the Athletics Program Lead at APCH?
Darrell: “Oh boy. I’ve been here for a very long time and it cheers my heart when I have older members that I coached as young kids come back as adults to talk to me about life and what athletics meant to them. But, I also love seeing them come back to serve or volunteer as athletic associates. They’ve overcome difficult home environments. Some have defeated incredible obstacles. But they’ve made it. And now they’re coming back to help and encourage others. That’s pretty special.”