The smoke machines were primed and ready. The audience stood at rapt attention. The audio system blared to life. As their names and schools were called, the players began entering the gym in a flash of smoke and applause. Parents cheered and mascots danced. Teams huddled with their coaches before taking the court for tip-off. What ensued was two hours of buckets, steals, blocks, and the culmination of after-school youth sport program One Glendale’s basketball season amid a packed house of parents.
Currently in its inaugural year, One Glendale is dedicated to promoting a healthy, active lifestyle through organized athletics. It’s comprised of weekly practices and competitions, with an emphasis placed on nutrition and physical fitness. Participants are 4th and 5th graders from local elementary schools Cerritos, Mann, Marshall, and Edison. The program’s fours sports are flag football, basketball, soccer, and volleyball.
The result of a partnership between Glendale Unified School District (GUSD) and the City of Glendale, One Glendale is currently in the middle of soccer season. Additional sponsors include Dignity Health Glendale Memorial Hospital and the Glendale Parks & Open Space Foundation.
Lea Awni, an Edison Elementary School parent, praised the program’s ability to foster both fitness and camaraderie.
“The bottom line is they’re having fun at the same time,” Awni said. “My son loves it. I think as a parent you see the growth in their physical aspect and understanding of the game and the sport …it’s beautiful.”
The One Glendale Basketball Championship included a ribbon, medal, and trophy ceremony for all participants. In the end, Edison claimed the top honor as champion.
Cody Smith, a Battalion Chief with the Glendale Fire Department, praised the life lessons instilled by the program.
“It’s pretty outstanding, the kids seems like they’re having a really good time, a lot of good competition,” Smith said. “Like the Fire Department, it really needs teamwork, so that seems to be pretty exciting for the kids, something I think they’ll take with him throughout their lives.”
Shant Sahakian, President of the Glendale Parks & Open Space Foundation, expressed appreciation for the program’s ability to captivate parents and inspire kids.
“You know, we’re very proud to have supported it as a foundation,” Sahakian said. “Just to see this many parents come out supporting their kids with a healthy, competitive environment, and the atmosphere that’s created at the schools. It’s been awesome to be a part of it.”
Wayne Herron, Vice President of Philanthropy at Dignity Health, which sponsored One Glendale, said he was pleased by the positive impacts the program has made on the community.
“I’ve learned that this program has done a lot of things in terms of outcomes,” Herron said. “We when made this investment, we wanted to support the community but also make a difference in kids’ lives.”
Recently Glendale and GUSD officials engaged in talks regarding potentially expanding the One Glendale program to add an additional four elementary schools - R.D White, Muir, Columbus and Jefferson. The program is currently in the middle of soccer season.
Prior to basketball, One Glendale kick started its inaugural year with flag football.
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