Category: In The News

Jun 7

Homeless Boy Helps Others

Taree is one of 2.5 million homeless children in the USA. They live in shelters, in cars, in shabby old hotels, or on the streets. The children’s families have ended up there for different reasons, but they all dream of a home of their own. “I’ve been homeless since I was nine,” explains Taree. “For a few years we moved around a lot, but now we live at Union Rescue Mission. This place is home to thousands of homeless people who don’t have anywhere else to go.” Taree, his mother, and five brothers and sisters live in one room and share a toilet and shower with others. “The worst bit is probably having to get up at five in the morning when breakfast is served in the dining hall.” Taree’s family live in downtown Los Angeles, in the homeless area. Thousands of people live on the street here. On his walk to school in the morning, he has to pick his way between tents, shopping carts, and sleeping people. But Taree is not afraid.

“The people who live on the streets are kind and helpful towards us children.”

Hardly anybody at school knows where Taree lives. He has only told his very best friend, because many people are prejudiced against homeless people. “The worst thing about being homeless is moving around and changing school so often. I worry about the future a lot, and how I’ll be able to help my family survive. Sometimes it’s hard to stay motivated. But my mother supports all of us. She has helped us grow strong, although things have been tough. Luckily I like school. Math makes me happy!” Taree gets help with his homework from School on Wheels, an initiative started by child rights hero Agnes Stevens, who received the World’s Children’s Honorary Award in 2008. “Without their extra tuition I wouldn’t have done so well at school,” says Taree. “Now I help the younger kids there with their homework!
Click here to see the article from Worlds Children’s Prize

Jun 7

Student Becomes Tutor

In 2003, Tony was in 5th grade and struggling to learn a new language as well as understand his math homework. His family had moved to the United States from Vietnam.

Tony was matched with a School on Wheels tutor and remembers breaking down one day because of the stress of it all. His family had been evicted, and they were living in their car. He was struggling with school and was feeling overwhelmed. What his School on Wheels tutor said in that moment stayed with Tony and became his mantra: “It’s going to get better. You can get past this. It’s not going to be like this forever.”

Fast-forward to 2017, and Tony is about to graduate from Cal State Fullerton with a bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies. His biggest challenge – learning to speak English – became his biggest achievement! With gratitude to School on Wheels, Tony is now training to become a volunteer tutor, wanting to pass on some of the positivity he received when he was 10 years old and homeless.

Apr 26

Southern California All-American lends big hand to young yoga students

Zach Banner poses with students during Trojan Zen. (Photo by Ben Wong)

LOS ANGELES — Later this month, Zach Banner’s name will be called at the NFL Draft, whereupon he’ll leave the college comforts of Southern California and begin a life of professional size and skill.

Banner is a 6-foot-9, 340-pound offensive tackle on the USC football team, is a mountain of a man that will make his living standing in front of some of the world’s largest athletes.

But in his last days as a Trojan, Banner and his teammate volunteers stood, not in the face of helmeted behemoths, but on yoga mats, twisted into poses alongside impoverished youth inside USC’s private athletic facility.

When the tiniest hands in the room reached for the sky, so did the biggest. When it was time to stand on one foot, players helped buoy their neighbors.

During the downward dog pose, an instructor encouraged the participants to make their best “dog bark.” Her students for the day, elementary school students and football players Nico Falah and Jackson Boyer, howled together before breaking into grins.

To conclude the session, kids from Los Angeles’ After-School All-Stars and Skid Row’s School On Wheels laid on their backs, closed their eyes and found their point of serenity. The players did the same, and with their breaths synced to the little lungs around them, they resembled boulders in a pebble garden.

Wide receiver Jackson Boyer and offensive tackle Nico Falah engage in “warrior pose” with kids from School On Wheels’ Skid Row Learning Center. (Photo by Ben Wong)

The kids, including those that instructors say are frequently hyper or violent, were stone-still.

This rare moment of peace with a future that has similar calm in it, is the goal of Trojan Zen, a yoga event that is the product of Trojan Outreach, Uprising Yoga and Banner, recipient of the USC Community Service Football Award.

Trojan Outreach is the community outreach branch of USC Athletics and Uprising Yoga is a non-profit that sponsors yoga life-skills programs for incarcerated youth and underserved communities.

The outreach program wanted to give an experience, and self-control tools nobody can rob from them, to those that have “so very little,” as Banner put it.

“A lot of our families come from domestic violence, eviction, being laid off,” said Allison Maldonado, an instructor at School On Wheels’ Skid Row Learning Center.

“We deal with students that are being uprooted, they’ve lost their home. Toys, anything they had before, is now taken away. It’s very difficult because they have a give-up mentality or a learned helplessness where they don’t have that grit to try,” she said. “They just have a fear that things are going to be taken away or messed up.”

McCall Hall, director of community outreach for USC Athletics, said youth in the program can get a semblance of normalcy from it.

“(They’re) trying to make something of themselves,” Hall said. “They go to school every day and don’t know what they’re going to return to. What is homework to a kid that doesn’t have a home?”

Faculty at the Skid Row Learning Center frequently chaperone their students on the afternoon walk to the Union Rescue Mission, a half-mile away. Sometimes the mission is full or closed, at which point the students, many of whom don’t have a functioning parent, have to find somewhere else to lay their heads for the night.

Yoga may not be four physical walls and a roof, but according to Gordon Ogden, a yoga teacher and event planner for Phoenix-based Walter Yoga, the practice can provide the structure for development and progress.

“When we teach the body to be still, you start to understand that union between mind, body and breath and that starts to ripple throughout your life and you become happier and in control,” Ogden said.

“Yoga teaches kids that through practice, not only they can make themselves feel better, but they can start to see improvement and changes that happen over time,” Ogden said. “That builds confidence, strength, body awareness and (positive) body image and lowers stress.

Click Here to read the full article from Cronkite News.

Mar 25

Ian On The Run


Dressed in yellow from head to toe (literally), Ian Chan, Program Administrator for local nonprofit School on Wheels, completed the Los Angeles Marathon on Sunday to raise money for the homeless children that School on Wheels serves. Chan was one of thousands who made the 26.2-mile trek from Dodger Stadium. to the Santa Monica shoreline.

Ian is running 52 marathons in 2017 to raise awareness about homeless children in California. The LA marathon was his 12th this year and Ian ran his personal best with a time of 3 hours, 19 minutes and 58 seconds. He placed 404th out of 18,864 finishers.

This is what Ian had to say about his experience so far:

“It was an incredible feeling being out there with thousands of fellow Angelenos. The love, the camaraderie, the support…just unbelievable. This was the first time I wore the full-body School on Wheels outfit for a full 26.2 miles, and I’m glad I finished in one piece! Why am I running 52 marathons this year? Over 300,000 children experience homelessness in California each year; this campaign is about giving agency and hope to a population all too forgotten and neglected. My legs are tired, my feet sore but my heart is full. Onward to the next marathon!”

In an interview with KTLA, Ian showed off his amazing costume and talked about the 3,000+ homeless children School on Wheels serves each year and the thousands of volunteers that help them get back on track with school and learning.

Donate to Ian Chan’s Go Fund Me page here.

Mar 25

USC Football brings Yoga to Youth!

Some of our students got to enjoy yoga at the USC Athletic Department with USC Football Community Service Award Winner, Zach Banner, and Uprising Yoga!
“The experience today was amazing, the kids had a great time doing yoga with Zach. It’s something that our kids don’t have an opportunity to do often, so it was a wonderful experience for them to just be able to kind of just center themselves and visit this beautiful campus and do some yoga.”
– Charles Evans, Regional Director at School on Wheels