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Valley kids get trip to Padres game

June 20, 2002|By ROBERT FULTON

Special to this newspaper

Dateline: San Diego

The Padres were not the only winners here Wednesday at Qualcomm Stadium. A number of underprivileged, disadvantaged and at-risk youth were among those from Imperial County also on top thanks to the good people of the Imperial County Sheriff's Activities League.

With assistance from Kids Included Together, SAL took 35 children from the Imperial Valley to watch the Padres defeat the Boston Red Sox.

"Basically we just inquired and tried to find ways to afford coming up here," said Ed Preciado, a deputy sheriff and the Coordinator of Volunteer Services for the Imperial County Sheriff's Activities League.

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"They sold us tickets for $6 a seat and we had sponsors pay for the bus fair. That's how we got up here."

Valley youngsters facing a wide range of barriers benefit from SAL and other youth-related services in the county, including those with Down syndrome, learning disabilities, those who are underprivileged or disabled and those at risk.

"We hit the gambit," Preciado said. "There're no boundaries when it comes to problems with children. There are drug problems, juvenile delinquency problems, etc. There are no boundaries there, so we try to deal with all of those kids and try to give them a happy outlook on life, showing them that there are other areas and other things that they can do."

Kids from all over the Valley attended the Padres game, coming from Niland to El Centro.

"I like the home runs and the diving catches," said 9-year-old Trevor Beal of Imperial as he watched the Padres take the field.

"It's great to meet some new people," added Elliot Tagg, 13, of El Centro.

Siblings were allowed to come along, creating an environment of understanding and acceptance between those with problems and those without.

"What they (KIT) are trying to do is get agencies in various communities to basically open up their doors to kids with disabilities," said Lucrecia Torres, a crime prevention coordinator for the Imperial County Sheriff's Office. "They're trying to promote inclusion because they want everybody working together, not to discriminate against people with disabilities."

"What they try to do is take kids with disabilities and kids that don't have disabilities and blend them together," Preciado added.

SAL also educates children that law enforcement is indeed the good guys.

"We also try to give them the aspect of bonding with us so they know that not all law enforcement is bad," Preciado said.

There are a number of activities planned for this summer, including another Padres game, a golf outing, softball, trips to Huntington Beach and Magic Mountain and flag football.

"We're going to try to keep them pretty busy," Preciado said.

Children join the group through SAL presentations or are referenced.

"The parents have been real receptive because there are not many services in the Valley," Torres said. "We pretty much assist everyone throughout the community, children and youth as well as adults and seniors. Our department, as far as working with youths, is in the schools during the school year."

To learn more about joining the fun or about volunteering to help out, you can reach Ed Preciado at 339-0113 or visit www.icso.org and click on the SAL link where online registration is available.

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