July 2011 Update

Hello friends,

The school year ended with bang as NBC 10 Sports Director and former Philadelphia Eagle Vai Sikahema shared stories of his personal life journey with students. He talked about what it was like immigrating to the United States with English being his second language and his father’s dream for him to become a professional boxer. Students heard about love, commitment, and perseverance as he spoke about the opportunity to play college and then professional football. Check out this and other events at www.theyouthalliance.com or www.sjya.com.

Vai S. Sikahema was born August 29, 1962 in Nukualofa, Tonga.  The first Tongan ever to play in the National Football League (NFL), he played running back and kickoff returner for eight seasons, from 1986 to 1993. He played college football for the Brigham Young University Cougars, and was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals (now the Arizona Cardinals) in the tenth round of the 1986 NFL Draft. He also played for the Green Bay Packers and the Philadelphia Eagles before retiring after the 1993 season. Since retiring, he has served as Sports Director for WCAU, the NBC owned-and-operated station in Philadelphia, where he has been since 1994.  Vai is also devoting his time as a motivational speaker with The Youth Alliance, sharing in our passion to empower others to be leaders.



Vineland 3 on 3 Update

Believe it or not, this was year twelve for the Got Game 3on3 basketball tournament where more than 600 young hoop lovers dribbled, shot and dunked the day away. Before tipoff, NBC 10 sports anchor and former Philadelphia Eagles player Vai Sikahema gave a motivational message to the youth as the event’s guest of honor. Athletes hit the court outside Favorites at Vineland and competed in three age divisions: 8-10, 11-13 and age 14 through 12th grade, in addition to dunking and three-point contests. Also new this year we unveiled our 3on3 48-foot trailer that was donated by Giordano’s of Vineland. The trailer doubles as advertising thanks to a 3D graphic wrap donated by 20 local businesses. The bracket boards are also installed right on the truck. Take a look at some of the great pictures of the trailer and the tournament below. Check out this and other events at www.theyouthalliance.com or www.sjya.com.

May 2011 Update

Hello Friends,
It’s no surprise that bullying in schools is a hot topic. In fact, I don’t know anybody that hasn’t either encountered or witnessed bullying as a kid. To deal with this issue head-on, we brought in the WWE’s little boogie man Chris Hollyfield. At 4’4″ tall, his personal story of being bullied moves students to a decision point, saying “enough is enough.” We had outstanding feed back from the teachers, administrators and students at the nine schools we visited. Along with us, they feel that it truly made a major impact in the day-to-day choices of students and how they speak and act towards each other.
Below are some pictures. Check this and other events out at www.theyouthalliance.com or  www.sjya.com

Chris Hollyfield is a motivational speaker, actor, and business owner.  Chris has been in movies such as “Little Giants”, “Bad Boys” 1 and 2, as well as “Gamers”.  In addition, he has been on ESPN, 60 minutes, Dateline NBC, and Primetime Live.  You may also know him as “Little Boogeyman” on WWE Smack Down.  In addition to his acting, Chris is also the founder of 3D T.E.A.M. and works with kids encouraging them to do their best at everything they do. He is a little person with a huge heart. He gives back to his community and definitely knows what bullying is…Measuring 4-foot-4, an unprecedented motivational speaker, he is perceived as an undersized man in an oversized world, and maximizes his visual difference to help students recognize, and avoid, teasing and bullying among their peers. Chris has an enormous impact on kids because of his experiences and accomplishments in life.

Seth Franco March Tour

Hello Friends,
We just had an exciting week of school assemblies with the Harlem Globetrotters Seth Franco, we did 21 programs and schools.  check out this event and others at www.theyouthalliance.com or www.sjya.com
Seth Franco, former “Globetrotter”, has played for The Court Jesters, The Harlem Wizards, and in 2003 became a Harlem Globetrotter . Seth now travels using his unique basketball routine as a platform to speak encouragement with others. He has worked with such organizations as the NBA, Upward Basketball, and The Youth Alliance.

Franco has performed and shared in schools, prisons, at sporting events, and youth rallies about his life experiences. In the seventh grade, Seth wrote an essay stating that he wanted to be a professional basketball player. He has since been living that dream.

Comments from administrators:

Your presenter, Mr. Seth Franco, was engaging, entertaining and provided a very positive message to our fifth grade students. From the moment he arrived displaying his exuberance and great talent, he had the attention of our faculty and students. As an administrator that researches and arranges school assemblies, I determine the quality of the presentation based on two factors- interaction between presenter and audience, and the response following the assembly. I have to say that we are still receiving positive feedback from students, faculty and even parents about Seth’s visit. That alone speaks volumes on the impact he had on our school.

I truly appreciate your efforts and I look forward to working with you in the future.

Yours truly,

Lenny Long
Assistant Principal
Warren E. Sooy, Jr. Elementary

Once again The Youth Alliance delivers! On February 7th, 2011, Seth Franco visited our school and put on an outstanding assembly. From the time he walked into the room to the time he left, students were captivated. Seth was interactive with the students as they entered the auditorium creating a fun and comfortable atmosphere. He shared his story of adversity and it really inspired our students. We are so appreciative of The youth alliance staff for bringing another star performance to our school providing a forum for students to hear and learn about issues they are facing each day. The Youth Alliance director was in attendance as usual and never misses an assembly which speaks volumes about his dedication and commitment to the success of the program. There programs are in such high demand, we are already planning for next year’s amazing assembly for the students. Thank you so much Youth Alliance and Seth Franco. Four days later….still a buzz throughout the building. That’s what it is all about.

Mario Olsen
Veterans Memorial School

Reggie Dabbs 2011 School Tour

Hello Friends,

We had an amazing two-week school tour with Reggie Dabbs, with a grand-total of 44 assemblies in 11 school districts. Reggie’s unique approach with students and staff is unrivaled. We received an overwhelming response from the community and the schools. Below are some pictures along with some principal and teacher feedback.

See this and other events at www.sjya.com or www.theyouthalliance.com.

Assembly Comments:

Thank you so much for the great student assembly that you and Mr. Dabbs provided in December of 2010. Our staff and students enjoyed this up to date performance of this most serious subject. As you know peer pressure, making wrong choices and addictions plague our school setting. The message of hope and planning for the future is one that our students can benefit from and you provided a positive view about these problems. Thanks again for bringing this message to or students. You are welcome back at any time!

Albert Johnson, Principal

I had the pleasure of sitting through your assembly today at our High School in Millville, NJ. As a counselor in a school-based services program within the school, I know that our students experience so much pain, sadness, and hurt. Our goal is to reach out to as many students that we can and spread the message of love and family. After hearing you speak today, I felt compelled to reach out to you and thank you for your inspirational and motivational words. I am confident that the students at Millville heard your message and that no one that heard you left that room feeling alone. Thank you again for sharing your story. My commitment to you is that I will be sure to do my part to keep spreading your message. I got your back, bro!! God bless you and your family.

Tim Callahan,School Counselor

On behalf of Lakeside Middle School I would like to sincerely thank you for coming to our school and spending time with our students and parents on Thursday, December 2, 2010. The personal stories and life experiences that you shared with our kids were very well received and the students continued to talk about your presentation for several days afterwards. You had the complete and full attention of 1,100 students. 1,100 students! Words cannot describe how powerful that is. You touched many lives that day with your positive and powerful message of peace and unity.

Several staff members contacted me after the assembly to tell me that the program was the best student assembly that we have had in years. They expressed a desire to talk about the issues that you discussed and help the students build on the assembly. I have also received several phone calls from parents who attended the evening program with their children on Thursday, December 2, 2010. The parents conveyed the same message of positivity that the students did earlier in the day. Your presentation was outstanding, you related to the students and parents in a positive way. I was proud of our school for hosting you, and look forward to working with you again to help our students.

Stephen M. Wilchensky

Vice Principal

Lakeside Middle School

I would like to thank you for bringing Mr. Reggie Dabbs to Success as a guest speaker. Our students responded very well after the program and asked when he was returning for another visit. This is now the 3rd time that I have seen Reggie speak and he gets better each time I see him. Once again thank you for taking the time out of your day and spending it with our students. Our students look forward to having you back again in the future. Please let me know when the next speaker can attend and we will arrange the time.

Bob Rush

Special Education

Success School

I would like to formally thank you again for the marvelous performance given by The Youth Alliance Family. My children were enamored by the talent and charisma of the performers. My Staff is still laughing at their own performance. We were pleased, entertained, excited and just plain happy to have an important message delivered with enthusiasm and talent. May all of you have a joyous holiday and continue to bring your inspirational message as far as possible in the coming year. God Bless.

Sylvia W. Stewart, Principal, New Jersey Avenue School

I am following up with you regarding the Reggie Dabbs presentation given today at MSHS. From an administrative standpoint, his presentation is excellent. The positive message conveyed by Mr. Dabbs truly opens the hearts and minds of our students. Many students walked through the halls once they exited the auditorium with smiles on their faces and a bounce in their step. Also, many students approached me to say positive things and to tell me that “they had my back”. Being an administrator and being in charge of discipline, students don’t usually want to freely speak with me because it usually isn’t positive. Today, for at least a while, they will.

All of the administration and staff thoroughly enjoyed his messages and stories. Mr. Dabbs attitude and demeanor conveys positive messages and allows for a brief time, all of the boundaries in our school, lives and jobs to be broken down. Our staff loved his presence today in the building and we can only hope that we can have him here in the future.

It is my hope that what I have just relayed to you through this e-mail is the response you were looking to receive by reaching out to me today. If there is anything I can do for you in the future, please let me know.

Mr. Volovar , Vice Principal

“hey reggie, you came to my school, lakeside middle school in millville new jersey. you truly inspired me with your stories and jokes. i can tell you inspired others because they were crying. so was I. my homeroom teachers eyes were watering. you really made my day that day you came, so hopefully you could come again. <I GOTCHO BACK!!!>”


Reggie Dabbs:

Born to an unwed teenager who at one time considered abortion as a viable option for solving her “problem,” Reggie Dabbs considers himself fortunate to be alive. With no place to go, the pregnant teenager ended up living in a chicken coop in Tennessee. It was there she remembered a former school teacher, Mrs. Dabbs, who had said to her students, “If you ever need anything, call me,” and gave the students her home phone number. The girl called.

Mrs. Dabbs and her husband, whose six children were adults by this time, took the girl into their home and cared for her until after the baby was born. They continued to care for little Reggie as foster parents until he was in the fourth grade, and then they officially adopted him and gave him the Dabbs name.

As the Dabbs’ reared Reggie, they instilled in him strong moral values, for which he is genuinely grateful. They also ingrained in him the fact that in every situation he faced, he had a choice. What he did with those choices was entirely up to him.

In the sixth, Reggie began playing the saxophone and hated it. At the insistence of his parents he continued to practice and to play. Not until his freshman year in college did he actually enjoy the instrument, and today, he plays with fervor and expertise.

After graduating from college, Reggie began his public speaking. During one speaking engagement, his host asked if he would be interested in addressing a high school assembly. From that small beginning in 1987, Reggie has become a popular public school speaker.

Darrin MacDonald

Hello friends,

Just prior to winter break, we enjoyed sharing the musical talents of New Zealander Darin MacDonald with local students. Darin visited three different school districts, taking song requests and captivating the students with his broad musical repertoire. He discussed careers in the fine arts, what is is like being a musical performer, and answered questions surrounding his country of origin and life “down under.” There are a few pictures below along with Darin’s biography. Check out this and other events on www.sjya.com or www.theyouthalliance.com.

Darin MacDonald: Darin is a native of New Zealand, which is located in the South Pacific Ocean approximately 1300 miles south east of Australia. Darin grew up in the quaint art-deco town of Hawkes Bay before moving to New Zealand’s largest city, Auckland to further his musical career.

Darin was fortunate to grow up in a musical family and began playing piano at age 5. He later starting singing at the age of 13. Darin performed in various musicals during his school years. As an adult, Darin regularly performed throughout New Zealand and was featured on national television. In 2001, Darin accepted a job in Singapore before moving on to other positions in Osaka, Japan. Darin later worked for three years for Carnival Cruise Lines, entertaining passengers throughout the Caribbean. Darin now resides in Southern New Jersey and performs at various venues on the Jersey Shore and throughout the Northeast.

Darin is currently involved in promoting his self-titled album released in 2009 and is hoping to spend more time recording in a studio. Darin’s influences are wide ranging and include Elton John, Billy Joel, Damien Rice, Cold Play and James Taylor. Darin is happily married with three children.

December Update

This year our tradition of serving a holiday dinner at the Vineland’s Alternative school continued. Students enjoyed turkey, stuffing mashed potatoes and baked ziti with all of the trimmings all thanks to our friends at Larry’s II Restaurant. We also gave away the first of several Ipods as part of our incentive program for students with good attendance and no behavioral issues. Below are the pictures of the meal and awards that were presented to students.

Gary Cobb School Tour

Hello Friends,
We had an exciting week with CBS-3 sportscaster, 610WIP commentator and Former Philadelphia Eagle Garry Cobb #50.We were warmly welcomed at six school programs in the region as Garry delivered a message of running with someone else’s ball. He described how others before him—like family, coaches, and teachers—laid a path for his success, and he was running with their ball. We share Garry’s vision, creating opportunities for young people to succeed.

Garry Cobb (born March 16, 1957 in Carthage, North Carolina) is a former American football player and current radio personality on WIP (AM) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.A 1975 graduate of Stamford (Connecticut) High School, Garry was a standout for the Black Knights in baseball, basketball, as well as football. Cobb was a linebacker at the University of Southern California where he played on two Rose Bowl Championship teams, one National Championship team and was selected All-Pac-10 in 1978. He graduated in 1979 with a Bachelor of Sciences degree in Sociology. After graduation, Cobb was offered contracts by the California Angels and Chicago Cubs baseball teams, but opted to play professional football instead.

Drafted in 1979 by the Detroit Lions, Cobb went on to play 11 years in the NFL with Detroit, the Philadelphia Eagles and the Dallas Cowboys. Among note, he was traded from Detroit to Philadelphia in 1985 for Philadelphia’s all-time leading rusher Wilbert Montgomery. Since his retirement from football, Cobb has transitioned to being a television and radio personality in the Philadelphia area. He has earned the nickname “G Cobb”. His trademark expression has become “G Cobb in the House”. Since 1997 he has been a sports reporter with CBS 3’s Eyewitness News team. He also hosts his own weekend radio program on 610 WIP.