Our primary target for the center in Santa Rosa are the youth that live in the neighborhood of Osorio / San Martin. The economic capacities of the families in these neighborhoods vary considerably, while the majority of children that participate in our programs are from lower income families. That means their family income is likely less than US$150 per month. The older youth that participate in our programs are generally better off financially since the poorer youth start work when they finish 6th grade.
The impact of our center on the local youth is not straightforward. Sure, they learn skills and have opportunities for recreation that otherwise do not exist. However, a critical impact is one which is not easy to measure or to see in the short term -- it is increased self esteem. How do they develop this? Simple -- it is so unusual for them to have adults spend time with them outside of their formal schooling. By participating in basic programs, these youth start to recognize that they are worth the attention of the volunteers. By playing football against the wealthier youth from a private school, they learn that they have equal abilities and limitations to those who come from families of influence.
Many children suffer the disadvantages of not being able to participate in basic education offered by the government simply because they cannot afford the uniform or some of the materials that they need to buy for classes such as science or art.
Secondly, due to a lack of proper diet in the crucial developing years of their early childhood, many children will permanently be restricted in their ability to learn.
As some of our doctors discovered, sugar loaded coffee is a common beverage for babies under 3 years of age. Many kids that have no nutritional food for breakfast or lunch still find ways to obtain inexpensive little bags of churros (simply small bags of various types of chips) or freezies.