Earlier this week, the Rams hosted youth housed by the Los Angeles County Probation Department and Anti-Recidivism Coalition (ARC) representatives for a tour of SoFi Stadium and a panel discussion in the Rams locker room.
The surprise event offered mentorship to young adults who are preparing to reintegrate into society by facilitating rehabilitative dialogue.
"Today the Rams organization put together an amazing experience for the young men from Camp Afflerbaugh," explained Jesus Corral, Senior Director with LA County Probation Department. "This was an opportunity for our young men to not only meet some Rams Legends and tour SoFi Stadium, but also to interact with the individuals from the Anti-Recidivism Coalition and find out about some opportunities and pathways that are available for them as they transition back home."
Rams Legends Jerry Wilkinson, Robert Delpino, Dexter Davis, and Brandyn Harvey joined the event and participated in an opening Q&A session moderated by Rams Director of Social Justice and Football Development Johnathan Franklin. The former Rams players shared stories about overcoming adversity, self-reinvention, the importance of maintaining hope and the power of choice.
"For me, being in the community, for the community, is just something that is a heartfelt desire," said Rams Legend Jerry Wilkinson. "I'm thankful the Rams organization would open up their doors, open up this beautiful stadium and allow us to participate."
The tour concluded with a panel discussion led by ARC Executive Director Sam Lewis and featuring three formerly incarcerated ARC members.
"The highlight of the panel was really the emotional power felt in this room," shared a formerly incarcerated panelist and ARC member. "All of us getting together and being able to hear the stories shared of all the opportunities that are around us was the biggest highlight."
The group discussed overcoming fear, creating opportunities, personal development, and the support and brotherhood ARC offers.
ARC works to end mass incarceration in California by empowering formerly and currently incarcerated people to thrive. Through their grassroots policy advocacy, ARC is committed to transforming the criminal justice system to be more just and equitable for all people.
"I started ARC in 2013 and we partnered with the Rams as soon as they came back to Los Angeles," said Scott Budnick, CEO of One Community Films and Founder of ARC. "They are a team that is getting in the trenches with the community, helping out youth people, helping out older people and really being of service."
The Rams have held a longstanding commitment to supporting ARC's mission to empower formerly incarcerated individuals as they take the necessary steps to transition into their next chapters of life.
"I've seen it time and time again, year after year, and being able to see over 60 of our ARC members, who are new union construction workers, come in and spend three or four years building SoFi Stadium was just a beautiful thing," explained Budnick. "They walk the walk… when the Rams brought the rookies in to tour the stadium for the first time, they had our guys, all formerly incarcerated young people, actually give the tour of the stadium to the new rookies. The Rams have integrated this into everything that they do."
Following the panel discussion, all attendees participated in football activities and drills on the SoFi Stadium field.
"I believe that the individuals that were here today walked away having hope," said Johnathan Franklin, Rams Director of Social Justice and Football Development. "Believing that they are enough just looking in the mirror, regardless of what they have done, regardless of their current circumstance, regardless of their reality, they can change their future. It was exciting to use the power of football to create a necessary conversation and bring various groups together that have one common goal, which is to create hope."
To learn more about the Rams community efforts, please visit www.therams.com/community.