Partners: Crenshaw High School Eco Club
Troubled L.A. Youth Get Help
Crenshaw High School dean Bill Vanderberg shows inner-city kids new horizons through a nature club in this segment of "Early's Angels."
Against the backdrop of concrete streets and bitter gang violence, the Crenshaw High School Eco Club reconnects South Los Angeles youth with the outdoors. Bill Vanderberg, Crenshaw's Dean and Eco Club Advisor, believes in the power of this connection to inspire and empower. On a recent trip, he challenged his students to put aside longstanding athletic and gang rivalries and join Dorsey High School on a trip to Yosemite National Park.
Crenshaw and Dorsey are continuing to build their partnership in 2010. Read about their efforts in the Los Angeles Times!
Los Angeles Times: January 31, 2010
Rival L.A. high schools find common ground in nature
BBTO California is proud to partner with the Eco Club. For more information about the Crenshaw Eco Club, contact Bill Vanderberg at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Interested in the Crenshaw Eco Club? Want to start your own Eco Club? Click here to learn more!
Crenshaw High School Eco Club:
Outdoor Experiences Overcome Gang Rivalries
Yosemite National Park: This year, Crenshaw partnered with rival Dorsey High School to complete a joint WildLink expedition from Sunday, April 5 — Friday, April 10. The trip was unprecedented; not only are Crenshaw and Dorsey bitter athletics rivals, but they also represent rival gangs. Crenshaw High is within the Crips territory, and Dorsey is solidly Bloods. Longstanding feuds have made contact between the two schools rare indeed.
Bill Vanderberg, Dean of Crenshaw High School and Eco Club advisor, challenged youth from both schools to put aside past differences and concentrate on the opportunity they had to connect with nature. He was right; the program was so successful that the students spontaneously decided to rename their program the "Dorshaw" Eco Club — and they will use that name on all future partnership events. "Having to spend a moment with Dorsey was once-in-a-lifetime," said Leo Morazan, former Eco Club president. "It never happened before, and I really never expected to spend time with them because of the rivalry between our schools. But we all got together and worked as a team. Now we are one group- we are Dorshaw."
The WildLink Expedition took the students out of inner-city Los Angeles and into the Yosemite Valley for five days, three of which had them backpacking through Yosemite's backcountry. Monday, they gathered in the old historic Yosemite cemetery to hear Shelton Johnson speak about the history of the Buffalo Soldiers in the park while wearing a uniform circa 1900. Tuesday, the students hiked through the backcountry to Hetch Hetchy through increasingly chilly weather, enduring the last miles in pouring rain.
They awoke the next morning to find themselves surrounded by 4-6 inches of snow- a truly memorable sight for all. Junior Danielle Babb had a particularly transformative experience. After struggling through the first hike and ending the night in tears because she had never been so tired and cold, Danielle described her Yosemite experience: "It's gorgeous and so big! Everyday is something new. At home everything is same old, same old. But out there, everything is big blue sky and no smog."
The power of groups like the Eco Club to affect participating youth cannot be overemphasized. Each of the students on the WildLink Expedition reconnected with nature and the outdoors on an individual level in a way that will stay with them for many years. But they also connected with each other, forming a bond that spans old rivalries and long-standing fears to create a new and hopeful group of young people. An article about their experiences will appear in the July/August issue of Sierra Magazine.