Yesterday part of the Raise the Sky and Wingsuit Bigway record team visited an elementary school in South LA, where a City Year Los Angeles group of volunteers (known as “Corps members”) tutor and mentor kids in an after school program. We were excited to see what City Year is doing on the ground, since we are supporting and partnering them through both fundraising and awareness raising at the US National Wingsuit Record attempt here at Skydive Elsinore in Southern California. We met some of the bravest young people you could imagine, shot some wonderful footage and interviews with students, Corps members, and a school representative, and saw a side of LA that most skydivers don’t get to experience.
Some of these kids have never been to the beach, even though they live only a few miles from the Pacific shore. The school sends food parcels home to their families because some can’t make ends meet. Their elementary school is surrounded by a tall fence and locked gates to guard against threats from the neighborhood. And this is only an hour away from where we soar through the sky wearing wingsuits, and where we are about to set a record in the history of human flight.
Did you know that every 26 seconds a student gives up on school in America? Many of the students we met yesterday are at the highest risk in the nation of dropping out eventually. They are bright eyed, cheerful, playful, and full of life – but because of where they live, graduating from high school ten years from now and succeeding in life is a dream as crazy as flying through the sky without an airplane. We wanted to tell them: If we can fly, you can graduate!
They responded by yelling: “If you can fly, WE CAN GRADUATE!” We even got to sign a few autographs and talk about our own experiences overcoming fear and challenges. I think there are some future City Year wingsuit champions!