Access Youth Academy: Impact Greater Than Just Squash

Anthony Sapp, Editorial Writer

7 years after Preuss was founded in 1999, the after school squash program named Access Youth Academy was created. Partnering with and built upon Preuss students, the motto for this multinational winning title is “Potential made Powerful.” With a 100% college acceptance rate, Access Youth Academy ensures a 12 year commitment that includes support six years into highschool, four in college, and two years after college graduation in preparation for the real world. While amazing on paper, is this program really worth it?

Access Youth Academy, or more commonly known as AYA, has had features on NBC’s Nightly News, opened a $12 million training facility, and contributed to over $9,700,000 in student earned scholarships. Tom Yumas from NBC News explains the story of Reyna Pacheco, a once undocumented student and a graduate from Colombia University on a full ride. During the broadcast, Renato Paiva, Access Youth Academy’s Executive Director explains that, “ We take low-income students from areas that are often never seen squash before. So we spend half of the time studying and half of the time playing squash.” The commonly known program under Squash Education Alliance, or SEA, “is more than just a sport, it’s life” according to Renato.

The work ethic Access Youth Academy develops is clearly seen through Reyna’s 4 am start to the day in order to balance her time on the Squash court and in the classroom. Her commitment and opportunities of growth were all thanks to Access like she explains. But this program dedicates itself to more than just success, also character and sportsmanship. A direct quote from Tim Wyant, the executive director and founding member of the National Urban Squash and Education Association, shows what Access Youth Academy is really all about. He wrote, “Access Youth Academy is about having the highest standards of our youth. The organization encourages its team members to be the best students, athletes and people they can be, and they meet that challenge. In urban squash, Access’s results are second to none.”

Support from partners such as Cox, SDG&E, US Bank and countless others have led to success stories such as Reyna’s. But it’s no surprise that Access Youth Academy has sent their kids to elite institutions through academic and financial support. Their motto and dedication towards removing barriers for underprivileged students will continue to affect its newly admitted group of kids. The only issue with Access Youth Academy is its exponential growth. With too many kids, it’s hard to receive the same amount of support many students once had. This shows a program like no other increasing its influence to continue to affect more kids, but if it’s truly worth the struggle we’ll soon find out.