CARLSBAD — The city of Carlsbad provides an array of classes and programs for youth.
Understanding that not all families can afford these recreational amenities, the city created an Opportunity Grants Program so all children have the chance to participate.
The city offers a variety of year-round courses ranging from classes and camps that help
enhance a child’s wellness through life skills, talent, imagination and fitness.
“The Opportunity Grants Program has a powerful impact not only on the children it serves, but
on the Carlsbad community at large,” said Bonnie Elliott, management analyst for the city of
Carlsbad Parks & Recreation Department. “It equips children with a wide variety of social
and cognitive skills, engaging them in healthy activities and encouraging the development of
positive self-esteem and social responsibility.”
Children can take part in activities such as swimming, art, dance and even preschool.
Elliot pointed out that although the city works hard to keep its programs affordable, some
families do not have the resources to take advantage of these opportunities.
The grants, which can go as high as $150 per child, are available to low-income Carlsbad families.
The Opportunity Grants Program , launched in 1998, has served more than 1,000 youth recipients.
Julie Macias McDaniel’s three children have taken part in the grant program.
Because her kids enjoy the water, they made a beeline at the pool for swim lessons. Now, both of her older children are junior lifeguards.
“The swim lessons made them strong and capable of easily swimming in the ocean,” she said. “With the beach as our backyard, I felt swim lessons have really helped.”
For McDaniel, being involved in the community is important and knows one day her children will be able to give back.
For Desiree Hamilton of Carlsbad, her children have been enriched by the Opportunity Grants Program in a variety of ways.
“For our oldest daughter, the opportunity grant allowed her to participate in something fun, something she was interested in, and something that was completely her own,” she said, adding that she made new friends.
Hamilton’s youngest daughter, who has some developmental delays, enjoys the programs and her mother calls it a time where her child can be a “kid” without any performance expectations.
“In these programs, she was able to watch and observe her peers, try new things, become familiar with different environments and activities, learn important life skills like swimming, and just do or be whatever she wanted,” Hamilton said. She continued, “If she sat watching the entire karate class, it did not matter, because she was having fun and a chance to be a typical kid.”
In the last fiscal year, more than $10,000 in grants was awarded.
“The grants are made possible because of the donations of generous residents, business
owners and community members passionate about the future of children in our community
and the future of the Carlsbad community itself,” she said.
Over the years, Elliott said, a handful of restaurants have partnered with the city to donate a portion of their revenue on a designated evening to benefit the Opportunity
The city’s current partner restaurant is Paradise Pizza. On the first Monday of each month, Elliott added, the restaurant designates this day to gift a percentage of its profits.
“Our family has been given a tremendous gift by being able to be a part of this program and have been afforded the many wonderful experiences that we have had — we only hope that one day we can return the favor and bless others in the same way,” Hamilton said.
To learn more about the city of Carlsbad Grants Program including the application process, visit carlsbadca.gov or call (760) 434-2826.