By Johnny Flores, Jr.
After school activities, such as dance class or organized sports, are out of reach for many children in the Eastern Coachella Valley, where more than one in ten families live below the federal poverty level.
“Growing up, I was one of those kids,” said Rosie Welmas, founder of Rosie’s Kids, a non-profit dedicated to helping low-income children participate in these types of activities. “I had seven brothers and sisters, and I could never participate in any of these activities. Now I want to give back to children like me.”
According to the Building Healthy Communities website, “The Coachella Valley…is a center of agriculture and tourism, as well as one of the poorest areas in the United States. More than one in ten families live below the federal poverty level…affordable housing, better schools and recreational parks are also needed. Youth are in need of activities to do after school is out of session.”
Rosie’s Kids is currently helping more than 100 youth participate in activities such as football, theatre, and cheer.
“Most of these kids don’t know what it is like to participate in activities like this,” she said.
The goals of her organization are to help children succeed, make them feel accomplished, and encourage them to do their best in and out of the activities in which they participate.
In addition to athletics and dance, Rosie’s Kids also encourages children to participate in the fine arts, including theatre, pottery, paint, photography, and film classes at her space in the Coachella Valley Art Center.
Welmas also donates her time and facilities to Thomas Jefferson Middle School’s “Story-Telling” program, which allows students to tell their life stories through artwork and drama. The life stories created by the students are recorded and placed onto a DVD so that students may share their work with their families.
Welmas hopes to expand her offerings. She is currently building a stage at the Coachella Valley Art Center for her latest project, “Your World on Stage.” This program will allow students to participate and gain a greater appreciation of the performing arts and contribute to the diverse culture in the Coachella Valley.
“I never really planned doing something like this, but now looking back, something like this was meant to happen,” she said.
Through fundraising and grants Rosie’s Kids is able to help these children. If you would like to learn more about Rosie’s Kids programs, please visit www.rosieskids.com.