Youth Foundation, Southwest Airlines help kids to fly

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Ariel Wilks, 16, a student at Carver Vocational Technical High school had always been afraid to fly.

That was until she got involved with Inner City/Suburban Youth Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing educational field trips and scholarships to local students.

A partnership with Southwest Airlines makes it possible for the foundation to help young people fulfill their dreams of attending major sporting and entertainment events around the nation.

Earl Lloyd, 10, a student at Creative City Public Charter School, recently took a trip to Chicago to attend a Baltimore Orioles game against the Chicago White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field.

“It was the first time I rode an airplane, and, I liked looking at everything out of the window,” young Earl said.

Southwest Airlines donated roundtrip tickets and overnight hotel accommodations for 10 students and seven chaperones. The Chicago White Sox donated game tickets and the Baltimore Orioles provided caps and T-shirts.

The Orioles treated the students to a victory, and after the game students had the opportunity to take in a fireworks display and some of the Chi-Town’s sites and landmarks.

William Newman, founder of Inner City/Suburban Youth Foundation, says the idea for creating an organization that would help facilitate such excursions began years ago when the son of a friend expressed an interest in going to a wrestling match.

“I was working at a radio station at the time and I took him to the event and we sat in the front row,” Newman said. “I later spoke to the promoter who invited us back again and [he] told me that whenever I wanted to come to let him know. A friend of mine told me that this is something that I should do.”

Lloyd and Wilks are among the dozen youth currently a part of the program, which also offers mentoring and tutoring to youth ages six to 17. Newman secures donations for tickets to sporting and entertainment events and then makes them available to local schools. The principal or school administrator selects students for trips on the basis of good grades, good conduct and maintaining a B average. Upon the conclusion of the trip, all of the students are required to write about their first airplane ride and their travel experience.

When tickets aren’t donated, Newman purchases them himself.

“We’ve actually taken kids to Washington to see the Wizards and, just two years ago, we took a busload of about 50 kids to Washington to see wrestling,” said Newman. “It changes the kids’ perspectives.”

“This is something that these students will remember for the rest of their lives,” said Derrick Deramus, a member of Next Level Mentoring Group, who served as a chaperone for the trip in August.

“I would like to give a special shout out to Southwest Airlines, the Inner City Suburban Youth Foundation, the White Sox and the Orioles for helping to make this field trip happen.”

William Newman also contributed to this article.