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My name is Kiyoko Guillory. I am a graduate from UCLA as well as an alumna from East Oakland Youth Development Center. EOYDC has unquestionably had an impact on my life. The Center taught me diligence, I had to be at practice at 4 o’clock or my coach Curtis Taylor would have us do bear crawls. I could not complain about workouts or my lifts being too heavy. All my weight training in high school was done at EOYDC. The center’s Director Regina Jackson would come in about once a week say “How’s my babies doing,” a famous line in my minds eye. I believe I was a better student in college because of the center, diligence and focus was everything. If you want to be good at anything you have to learn how to rise above your adversity whether that is your home life or school life and stay focused on your intended outcome. That essentially is the playing field that EOYDC lives in. There are many underprivileged kids who learn how to block out the stresses from their home life and in exchange creatively express themselves through arts or sports after homework and study has taken place. EOYDC certainly has a way of motivating you to do your best. This is a key factor for many kids who don’t have the same support at home. I fortunately did not come from a home where struggle and vice energies were apart of my day to day routine. Just being around individuals who had those destructive variables in their lives and still seeing optimal effort in studies and/or athletics gave me a painted picture of how greatness manifests.
I was filled with gratitude everyday I stepped foot in the Center. I saw so many kids less fortunate than me happy and in the zone playing basketball. I was always confronted with the thought of “I have it good.” One of the aspects that put gratefulness in my space was that people from all backgrounds intermingle and as a result I felt the need to succeed because there was always someone willing to work harder and was used to working harder in way more angles in life than me. That aspect implanted a competitive edge, a drive to work harder, and to do everything better in school and in sports. There was a necessity of a strong work ethic if you had plans to achieve in any way especially in track and field. People will always admire good athletes but good athletes with a lot of heart are way more memorable. I learned in high school that there are so many things to be thankful for and how my life situation could have been way worse. The Center in the middle of the chaos in East Oakland provides a love filled and devoted space so that anyone from any walk of life can be successful with the help of positively enforced direction. East Oakland Youth development Center is a place of refuge, a place of focus. EOYDC is centralized in a part of Oakland that would definitely be considered as a very rough part of town but its presence provides shelter and comfort; the eye of the storm if you will. The Center provides a direction of growth whether your interest is basketball, track & field, art & crafts or dance. EOYDC promotes and elicits self-expression.