Tag Archives: Tyra Banks

Pilot Inspires Compton Kids to Dream Big (VIDEO)

What’s the first word that comes to mind when I say the words, “Compton, Calif.?”

A hood that’s up to no good? OK, not fair, that’s more than one word. It’s also not a 100 percent fair representation of Compton. I recently met an aeronautical angel in this city, about 16 miles south of Los Angeles, who, for the past 15 years, has helped more than 2,000 kids earn their wings.

Robyn Petgrave, founder of Tomorrow’s Aeronautical Museum (TAM), is using aeronautics to get at-risk youth in Compton off the streets and into the air — educating, inspiring and empowering them to soar high and reach their dreams. Starting at age eight, kids who stay out of trouble, get good grades and have positive attitudes earn the privilege to fly planes.

“I talked to the kids about staying away from drugs and gangs, communicating, using aviation as a real life application of math and science, and working hard in school and life. As I noticed that some of them listened and followed through, I realized that I wanted to help kids succeed using aviation as a magnet to keep kids off the streets for a living,” Petgrave said.

As the founder of Celebrity Helicopters, a flight school and tour company, he still felt empty. He’s rubbed elbows with celebrities, garnered media recognition and even got the attention of Oprah. But what he’s most proud of is the title of “role model” to more than 8,000 kids at more than 21 different schools where he’s been a guest speaker.

Jump in and take a look at our Go Inspire Go video and come along for an inspiring journey. Fasten your seat belts — I promise your spirits will soar when you hit play.

After spending the day with several TAM kids, I was on a high. I was most impressed with the kids’ maturity, their willingness and duty to give back and responsible demeanors. Many TAM alum, like James Knox, are giving museum tours to the public and mentoring newcomers. Way to pay it forward!

It’s interesting to witness how the kids were drawn to TAM because of the planes, but it’s clear that they’re just a vehicle that gets the kids in the door and cockpit. Petgrave says there’s a tremendous amount of responsibility when you fly a plane, life skills that can be transferred from the air and to the streets.

I was lucky enough to be flown by James high above downtown Los Angeles. That’s when it occurred to me — what if we all took time out of our day to spend time with the youth, to tell them “YOU matter.” To what new heights would this child take us in our lives and our society?

Robyn and the kids told me many sordid stories — both heartbreaking and harrowing — of kids who’ve come through the doors with no hope. “Gangs, shootings…” says teen Cinthya Hernandez who found her calling and life’s purpose after meeting Robyn and the other TAM kids.

“One of the kids got shot in the leg right in front of his house for no apparent reason,” Robyn explained.

Courtesy: TAM

What’s next for Robyn and his kids? He’s joining forces with NASA’s SpaceX program. His dream is to send one of his TAM kids to space! Something tells me this out of this world idea will become a reality in the near future. Cinthya shared her favorite quote with me. “Why shoot for the stars, when you can go to the moon?”

High five to Robyn and his crew for taking these amazing kids under his wing and catapulting them past the sky’s limit. What a great way to use his power and fueling the dreams of these bright kids and challenging them to soar to new heights.

Take Action:

1) Learn more about Tomorrow’s Aeronautical Museum: Tamuseum.org
2) Use your power to support TAM
3. Mentor a Child in Your Community. Inspire them to follow their passion.

What can YOU do?

*Thank you Connie Chan Wang for introducing GIG to TAM!

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From Homeless to Top Model: The Spirit of Isis King

In 2004, Adam Bucko and I co-founded the Reciprocity Foundation, to meet the “inner” and “outer” needs of homeless youth. Homeless youth are not just materially impoverished, their spirits have been broken by sexual abuse, neglect, prostitution, trauma, isolation and physical violence.  We offer holistic programs such as yoga, meditation, holistic counseling and spiritual retreat to youth.  Once ready, we connect youth with extraordinary opportunities to cultivate their role in the external world. 

 

One of our students is Isis King, who just returned to the All Star season of America’s Next Top Model.  Isis is different from the other girls–she is transgendered.  That is, she was born a male but identifies as a female.

 

Three years ago, we introduced Isis to Tyra Banks.  Isis modeled in the background for an episode of the show focused on homelessness.  The next year, Isis was invited to be the first transgendered contestant on America’s Next Top Model.  The blogs and newspapers were buzzing with news about Isis.  Would she win? Would she fall apart?

 

Isis faced more challenges than the rest of the contestants–and rose to the challenge–until a swimsuit shoot in which she couldn’t contain her fear of revealing her male body parts in her tight-fitting bikini.  But after leaving the show, she rose to a greater challenge than modeling–leadership.

 

For the past two years, Isis has done more than pursue a modeling career.  She has taken on the task of helping youth–of all sexual identities–to find the courage to express themselves and to pursue their dreams.  Her time at the Reciprocity Foundation helped her connect with her heart and her deepest values–and she always longed to be a success so that she could serve and support others.

 

Adam and I are proud to be the co-founders of Reciprocity.  Because the world doesn’t need more image-focused celebrities–we need people who cultivate inner and outer beauty to walk the long hard road of serving others with integrity and compassion.

 

To view Isis talking about her time as a homeless youth, click on this link.

To visit the Reciprocity Foundation site, click here.

To view the press release about Isis King, click here.

www.youtube.com/watch

 

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