WATTS, Calif. – Working out toward a better future is how Abigail Fernandez now spends her days. She uses the school’s treadmill to train for soccer.
It is Fernandez’s first year on the team and she loves it. She owes this opportunity to University Pathways Public Service Academy, or The U, a specialized high school she had to apply to get into.
“I have a future here. I really have a future in this school,” says Fernandez.
A bright road ahead because of what The U offers, like higher level classes and a pathway to college or a career. Being from Watts, which is often seen as an underserved community, Fernandez feels she now has a chance at a better life.
“It’s special because we don’t live in a rich community and maybe people think about like, ‘Oh, those kids don’t have chances in life,’ and we are really trying to make it and I feel like this is going to help us a lot,” says Fernandez.
What will help her even more is the new gym she is working out in. Planet Fitness created a fitness center for all students to use at The U and The Charles Drew Middle School, which are located on the same campus. Fernandez did not have a place to work out in before, she just ran outside to condition for soccer.
“I’m lucky to be in this school because most schools don’t have this,” says Fernandez.
This is why local rapper Stix made this partnership happen. He has been working to give more opportunities and accessibility to his neighborhood Watts. He got the ball rolling with Planet Fitness and the Los Angeles Unified School District to make this new gym. He hopes more of these are put in schools around the neighborhood and beyond.
“The goal is to treat this as a Guinea pig, a testing ground, to see if this can actually work for an underserved community and right now it’s working,” says Stix.
It is working he says because he sees students are more eager to learn and chronic absenteeism has gone down in the school all because of the resources given. It is even seen in Fernandez’s life who says the new gym keeps her out of trouble.
“I’m not out there no more, not on the streets. You know doing bad things. Now I have something to do here,” says Fernandez.
Stix is excited to continue his work and help more students like Fernandez see a brighter future ahead.