The huddle of children let out a collective scream of joy as they pelted across the green field nestled in the Corona del Rey housing community to celebrate the winning goal that crowned them soccer champions.
This is the Corona del Rey Cup – the latest installment of Hope through Housing’s efforts to take health and wellness to more residents in partnership with the Empire Strykers arena soccer team.
The initiative began with Do Fitness! With Uzi, an exercise program that engaged children in the after-school programs, led by Fitness and Wellness Director Uzi Tayou.
“I saw the need for sports,” said Uzi, who is a former Stryker’s player. “As a nonprofit, our job is to help people so if I am able to provide this to at least one person then I’ve done my job.”
The activity launched at affordable housing communities in Rancho Cucamonga, including Mountainside, Villaggio and Rancho Verde, as well as some Los Angeles and San Bernardino properties. Now the two organizations are expanding the program – enlisting Hope through Housing’s After-school Program and Services Coordinator Hugo Magana, also an Empire Stryker, to take it to Riverside communities.
Over the course of four weeks, he has worked with children at Corona del Rey, Corona del Oro and Mission Pointe. “Part of our mission is to provide services for our residents to thrive. When we workout together we build upon all those good values that come out of health and wellness like camaraderie and character building,” Hugo said. “It’s just a positive push for the youth and the residents.”
Uzi and Hugo take the fundamental skills of an organized sport off the field by providing children and adults alike with the fun challenge of a training regimen or a soccer championship.
Siblings Sofia, 10, Javier, 9 and Mateo, 7, played on the winning team. Holding their trophies, the children said they gained immense joy and awareness about the importance of moving one’s body.
“It was great to learn about how to exercise and how to be healthy,” Javier said.