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Ball Corporation, Chargers Partner with City of LA on Recycling & Sustainability Program


In an initiative sponsored by Ball Corporation, the Chargers recently partnered with the City of Los Angeles' Youth Development Department (YDD) to create a program that focuses on educating youth and promoting recycling practices in Los Angeles.

Over the last several months, students introduced to the program were asked to create an event or campaign in groups that promotes and educates the community on aluminum recycling and sustainability practices.

The winning team received funding from Ball Corp. to implement their projects, culminating in a day of recognition at LA City Council.

Here is a timeline of all the program's events:

Program Orientation

In October, the Chargers hosted the youth council at SoFi Stadium to kick off the sustainability program.

Gathered in the press conference room, the youth council members took part in an orientation where they learned more about the program.

The afternoon at SoFi brought everyone together to mark a start of the program that looked to give them an opportunity to learn more and help the city grow going forward.

"We're challenging them to come up with ideas to make recycling better here in the city of LA," Ball Corporation Senior Manager Global Community Relations Jessica Leary said at the event. "We're hoping the next generation of sustainability champions can help us amplify that messaging. Whether that's infrastructure, ideation, opportunities, all of that.

"The goal of this program is to, first and foremost, empower them to use their voices for good and for change and then hopefully we get a little bit more of that recycling message out there," Leary added. "But I do think this is an opportunity for them to use their leadership skills and to really hone in on how they want to use their voices going forward."

The Los Angeles Youth Development Department's Youth Council consists of members between the ages of 16 and 25 and have two representatives each of the 15 council districts in the city of Los Angeles.

In addition to the orientation to the program, the group got to tour the stadium with SoFi stadiums sustainability specialists and had a chance to interact and ask questions about sustainability practices.

The orientation was the beginning of an important and impactful program.

"The Chargers really hope to achieve a lot with this program," Chargers Community Relations Manager Cheyanne Warren-Diaz said at the event. "One, we hope that by partnering with Ball Corp. that we're able to bring sustainability and recycling aluminum to the forefront of young people because they're going to be the ones that really shape how we move forward as a community and as an environment in the years to come."

Sponsored by Ball Corporation, the Chargers have partnered with the City of Los Angeles' Youth Development Department (YDD) to create a program that focuses on educating youth and promoting recycling practices in Los Angeles. The youth council members from YDD toured SoFi Stadium with the venue's sustainability specialists and attended an orientation to learn more about the program.

Final Presentations

The program eventually made its way back to SoFi Stadium.

The members of the Youth Development Department gave their final presentations of the program in December, capping off a couple months of hard work.

Gathered in the owner's suite, the group was first invited to a dessert reception before moving over to the locker room for the final presentations.

This included a total of five groups who gave their presentation on their idea of an event or campaign that promoted and educated the community on aluminum recycling.

The presentations were judged by sustainability practitioners, including some staff members of Ball Corporation, Hollywood Park and ABM Industries, who are involved in facility maintenance services for stadiums.

The winner of the program wasn't announced until post-event, but Group 5, who represented Council Districts 13 to 15 would eventually be announced as the winners. Their project aimed to prop up receptacles and bins throughout all 15 council districts to get people to recycle aluminum.

The City of Los Angeles' Youth Development Department (YDD) gave their final presentations in the locker room for the Chargers' sustainability program sponsored by Ball Corporation. The five groups were tasked with ideating an event or campaign that promotes and educates the community on aluminum recycling and sustainability practices. The winning team will receive funding from Ball to implement their projects in Spring 2024.

Beach Cleanup

A cloudy morning didn't deter everyone from a day of cleaning up Dockweiler Beach.

The Chargers hosted the third annual Bolts Community Crew Beach Cleanup presented by Toyota and supported by Ball Corporation in late March, another step in the program.

In addition to the YDD youth council students, volunteers gathered at the beach for a morning of picking up trash and raising awareness about recycling, picking up a total of over 550 pounds of litter.

"It's an amazing opportunity to give back to the community and to instill certain values in our young people," said Sheldon Cruz, the Director of Strategic Partnerships and Government Affairs in the City of LA for YDD. "Not only am I in civil service, I'm a football coach so being able to talk to our guys and actually have them come out in real time and see the benefit of being a part of the community and how important public service is."

The event has often been a popular one for a good cause, as it gathers a lot of volunteers and is a very interactive day.

Even with the rainy conditions early in the morning, everyone still showed up ready to go, including Chargers cornerback Asante Samuel, Jr.

"The beach cleanup has typically been our most successful in terms of volunteer turnout and overall excitement," Chargers Community Relations Coordinator Celina Giles said. "You can't really measure that, but you just get that feeling from the environment every time we're out here."

Giles added: "To see them even just show up despite the conditions, also meant a lot. Especially when they come from all over LA whether it's the valley, South LA, etc. For them to make it all the way out here to Dockweiler meant a lot."

It was another chance for the youth council members of YDD to continue to be involved and learn more about sustainability as they went through the program.

And their growth from the beginning of the program was noticeable in an event like this one.

"Right off the bat, and it's a consistent theme with the Youth Council Members, is they're impressive young people," Giles said.

"We met them initially at the orientation at SoFi and they were kind of shy, didn't really know what the program was about," Giles added. "Over the course of eight weeks or so when we did final presentations at SoFi, we got to see their personalities shine, we got to see their presentation skills and they got to exhibit their passion, their creativity for the prompt we set out for them."

Sheldon Cruz added: "It's always interesting to have a concept and see it in it's infancy stage. Then when you see it come into fruition, the hard work, the dedication, the planning, the meetings, all the stuff that goes into that moment, it all comes together when we see the number of people that show up."

The Chargers hosted the third annual Bolts Community Crew Beach Cleanup presented by Toyota and supported by Ball Corporation. Over 550 pounds of litter were removed from Dockweiler Beach by volunteers in a day supported by the Surfrider Foundation – South Bay. Chargers CB Asante Samuel Jr. joined the volunteers to assist in the efforts to reduce litter on the beach and raise awareness about plastic pollution.

City Council Recognition

The program wrapped up in a special way Friday in downtown Los Angeles.

Gathered at Los Angeles City Hall, members of the YDD and the six winning members of Group 5 met with city councilmembers in a ceremony that honored the winners of the sustainability program.

The group's winning idea consisted of propping up and beautifying recycling bins and receptacles throughout all 15 council districts with the help of local artists, with the focus being on aluminum, something that they felt was an important issue for their community.

"I think the spirit of recycling aluminum and being the second largest municipality in the city, understanding that that can only help us reduce our carbon footprint and also clean up our neighborhoods," Cruz said. "We feel it's important to educate the community and understand there's a difference between trash, waste, contamination and also aluminum.

"Coming together, creating that vision is really been beneficial not only to our organization, but Group 5 of our Youth Council," Cruz added.

Councilwoman Monica Rodriguez kicked off the meeting and introduced various speakers from YDD, the winning students of Group 5 and other members of the City of Los Angeles among others.

Councilwoman Rodriguez then unveiled two beautified bins that had artwork on it, bringing the group's idea to life. The bins will be positioned in different parts of the community beginning on Earth Day.

"They wanted to work with local artists to bring together some more beautification around the recycling bin itself, to bring attention to it in a way that's much more choosing to recycle as opposed to feeling like they have to recycle," Director of Strategic Partnerships for Ball Corporation Mike Kelly said.

"Ultimately we want to change people's behaviors, so they use and recycle that aluminum," Kelly added. "Making it more available and efficient and beautiful, we figured that would be a way to do it."

And at the end, the students were presented certificates from the City of LA for their work, bringing an end to what was an impactful program that educated the youth and promoted recycling practices.

"It's been extremely beneficial to see their idea go from the baby stages to evolving into this big kickoff event… They're able to put a game plan together and execute the gameplan within their respective schools and communities," Cruz said.

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