LOS ANGELES (CBS) — UCLA student Cameron Hajialiakbar was among 10 people honored at a White House ceremony Thursday as a “Champion of Change.”
Hajialiakbar is the founder and president of UCLA’s chapter of Coaching Corps, which trains and places volunteer coaches into after-school programs serving boys and girls in low-income communities. The group works to bridge the gap between those who have access to quality youth sports programs and those who don’t.
Hajialiakbar spends three days a week working with about 150 students at Palms Middle School.
“We spend our afternoons orchestrating drills and practices that get kids out of their seats and into the sun with bodies moving and hearts pumping,” Hajialiakbar said.
“It is easily my favorite part of the day. And while I am absolutely teaching them the skills they need to play the game, I am also using every practice to teach lessons like teamwork, discipline and how to push yourself past your own expectations.”
Hajialiakbar, a third-year student majoring in communications studies with plans to continue on to law school, said he was “honored and humbled” to be named a “Champion of Change.”
First Lady Michelle Obama said, “I’m so proud leaders like these have found new and exciting ways to help our kids get up and moving.”
She added, “If we’re going to end our nation’s epidemic of childhood obesity, we need to make sure our kids get the physical activity and nutritious foods they need to grow up healthy and strong. These leaders have done just that and that’s what makes them true champions for their communities and our country.”
The Champions of Change program was created as part of President Barack Obama’s Winning the Future initiative. Each week, a different sector of champions, ranging from educators to entrepreneurs to community leaders are recognized for the work they are doing to serve and strengthen their communities.
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