Oceanside kids learn about new possibilities

Program looks to help youth combat violence

SAN DIEGO - A North County program called Bridges to the Beach is looking to help inspire youth and keep them away from the gang violence in the neighborhoods where they live.

"When you try new things … it makes life better," said 11-year old Rafeal Rocha of Oceanside.

Rocha made his first attempt at standup paddle-boarding, and he told 10News, "It felt amazing."

Thanks to the San Diego Junior Lifeguards Foundation and Outdoor Outreach, the kids are getting away from a different world.

"It's a different atmosphere out here from where I come from," said 16-year old Angel Ortiz of Oceanside.

The children in the program come from rough neighborhoods in Oceanside.

"I mean, right here we're kayaking and having fun. I mean there's other bad things you could be doing," Ortiz said.

The activities get them away from some of the gang violence 10News has reported on, including a 2013 ambush that killed two innocent teens hanging out in Oceanside's Libby Lake Park.

For many of these kids, it's the first time they get to do activities like paddle-boarding, and organizers say that it's about showing that the possibilities are endless.

"Coming from a gang entrenched neighborhood in Oceanside, they don't have this type of opportunity. It might be challenging for them to go the couple of miles to the beach," said Joe McCleod, Director of Operations for Outdoor Outreach.

McCleod added, "Outdoor outreach is about possibility and showing these guys and girls that there really is something beyond their neighborhood."

"Right when you do something, you succeed. Nobody can stop you; you can just live your dream," said Rocha.

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