Karma- Youth Empowered Imagine John Lennon
Kar-ma [kahr-muh] (noun) - a force created by one’s actions.
The mission of Karma is to enhance the quality of life, as well as expand opportunities for youth, through activities that energize their mental, spiritual and physical development of youth to seek success in life and to provide the most basic of all human needs: “A Sense of Belonging”
Karma was established in 2004 as a result of the closing of the Teen Center at Brooks City-Base. Ronald Hayes, Karma’s founder had served as the center’s director for 14 years and saw a need for a community-based youth program in south Bexar County that could provide an encouraging life-supportive environment for youth. He founded the Karma program in effort to provide programs for youth residing in the 78223 and 78210 zip codes. Focusing on Football, Basketball, Baseball, Soccer, Tae Kwon Do, & Volleyball, Karma has grown to provide year round sporting activities for over 1100 youths within these zip codes through the Brooks Inner-City Sports program. In the last year the Brooks Inner City Baseball/Softball program increased more than we could ever imagine. We had so many teams and no field to call home for our kids on the South Eastside of San Antonio. Where did these purple teams come from and who are they; some said? So we have been Blessed to now have a new Field at Paul Pytel Park to call home. For the last two years, Karma has provided “The Summer Feeding Program” at our gym. A free lunch program for youth 18 and under, no questions asked, throughout the Summer with fun Games, Educational & Recreational activities to keep kids moving all Summer long.
Karma is dedicated to assisting Bexar County youth to meet and overcome many of the challenges they face in their lives. Of the many challenges faced by our youth:
Studies have shown that San Antonio is known as “one of the fattest cities in the U.S.,” with diabetes at an epidemic proportion with the county diabetes mortality rate (41 per 100,000) being 40 percent higher than the Texas rate (30 per 100,000). Among school-aged children and adolescents, obesity and lack of physical activity have been identified as major factors contributing to the increased prevalence of type 2 diabetes.
Alcoholism and underage drinking
Texasleads the nation in the number of alcohol related traffic fatalities among 16 to 20 year old drivers and alcohol remains the drug of choice by young people in the United States. In fact, more young people in the United States drink alcohol than smoke tobacco or marijuana. In 2007, the San Antonio Police Department issued 1336 citations to minors for possession of alcohol with over 400 arrests made for driving while under the influence. Bexar County leads the nation in fatalities due to teen drinking and driving.
A study published in 2004 by Bexar County Metro Health's Project WORTH found that in 2002, the birth rate to female ages 15 to 17 was 43.5 per thousand, 88 percent higher than the national rate of 23.2 per thousand. Texas, Bexar County included, has one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the nation, the statistics showed.
The community’s school drop-outs rate is the 2nd highest in 54 major cities in the U.S.
with 4,284 of 137,379 students, grades 7-12 having dropped out during the 2007-08 school year. This is a 3.2% rate for students.
Gangs and youth crime
The latest available data shows that of the 254 counties in Texas, Bexar County ranked the 4th highest in the number of teen violent deaths, and 5th highest in the number of juvenile violent crime. As of September 24, 2007, there were 8,504 documented gang members residing in Bexar County, with the heaviest concentration reported in the San Antonio’s Westside, Southside, Eastside, and an area known as “The Glen”. Of these documented gang members, 1,389 are juveniles. Many of these juvenile gang members commit violent crimes. Of the juveniles assigned to the Gang Intensive Supervision Probation Unit of the Bexar County Juvenile Probation Department, 82% were referred for assaults and/or felonies, up from the 45% reported in 2005. Overall, in 2006, violent felonies committed by juveniles accounted for 24% of the total felony referrals, with the number of violent felonies up by 16% over the prior year. The result of all this violence can be devastating on a community.
“It takes approximately $1,100 per year per child to provide positive programming
vs. $35,000 per year to incarcerate an offender.” San Antonio Youth Centers
Minorities and low wages
According to the 2007 U.S. census, Bexar County residents have an average household income that is nearly $20,000.00 under the U.S. average ( U.S. $60,374.00 vs. Bexar County $42,217.00). The percentage of county residents living below the poverty level was 16.5% (Texas 16.3%).
One of Karma’s primary goals is to establish a youth center in the southern quadrant of Bexar County to provide a safe environment for community youth to become empowered to take responsibility for their social and natural environment and begin to bridge the cultural and economic gaps that mark our society today. Secondly, Karma will establish a mobile teen center that can reach youth in all segments of the county and provide programs within the five focus areas (see below).
Karma’s objective is to provide learning opportunities and activities to educate youth; that there are consequences for their own actions, both positive and negative. We give our youth M&M’s (motivation and momentum) by targeting major setbacks and helping them stay focused on their goals. We believe that if our youth has a realistic reachable goal, they will try harder not to deviate from them. We teach the teens to give back through community service, civic and patriotic duties. Karma wants to help develop the whole child in promoting the spiritual, mental and physical wellbeing through our educational and enrichment programs; Karma will continue its successful sports program to support and enhance Karma’s mission. Through the use of our year round sporting programs, youth participants gain valuable skills in teamwork, sportsmanship, discipline and fair play; while providing good physical workout and exercise which can lead to a healthier lifestyle.
Karma’s programs are divided into 5 focus areas:
Education and Literacy
Workforce Preparation, Entrepreneurship, and Vocational Training
Health and Well-Being
During Karma’s first 5 years, we are proud of having accomplished the following:
City Council Dist. 3 – Rebecca Viagran Best Buy
Randolph Brooks Federal Credit Union Sam’s Club
Lowes Home Depot
Academy Taco Cabana
Broadway Bank WalMart
San Antonio Park Police Officers Association
Park & Recreation