Reinstate the Wrestling Program Immediately

This petition made change with 316 supporters!

On October 17th, the 7 Principals at the Taft Educational Campus in the South Bronx inexplicably passed a resolution to terminate the wrestling program - a choice that denies our youth their basic rights and opportunities for success. We’re urging the council to reconsider their resolution and reinstate the wrestling program immediately and allow it to continue in the building without interruption.

I’m Josh Lee, and I started the first wrestling club at Taft in the Fall of 2011 - a small club of high school boys. In 2012-2013, Robert Carrillo, a former collegiate wrestler, joined me at Taft as a Special Education teacher and assistant coach. Together we built the club into a team, and then founded Lucha Vida, Inc. as a non-profit organization. We collaborated with various community based organizations that include Bronx Lebanon Hospital, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Health Center, Beat The Streets, Inc., The Cornell Extension, and Latino Sports Media to provide our student-athletes with basic resources to better their chances of success on and off the mat.

The wrestling program at Taft includes nutrition and healthy lifestyle education, meal assistance, academic tutoring, mentorship, and physical activity. Many of the team’s activities are also open to students not on the wrestling team, such as attendance at nutrition workshops and free medical physicals.

Since 2011, the wrestling program has experienced growth and success at a phenomenal rate, and it now consists of a boys & girls middle school team, a boys high school team, and a girls high school team. With the following data impossible to refute, the council needs to reconsider their resolution immediately: 

•  In 2013, our middle school team had the highest number of female participants in all of NYC.

•  Taft is the ONLY campus in all of NYC that has a Middle School Girls wrestling team and a PSAL High School Girls wrestling team in the same building.

•  A 2014 study of PSAL girls participating in wrestling found that on average the participants reduced their body fat by 4.8% over the course of one wrestling season.

•  Gender equity - Taft is one of only a handful of schools in the PSAL that has as many girls wrestling as boys.

•  Last season, Taft wrestlers logged over 1,000 individual practice hours and over 300 study hall hours - no other team in the building even has mandatory study hall.

•  Between the middle school teams and the high school boys and girls teams, the wrestling program had 79 students on the official rosters last year, by far the most of any program at Taft, and has served over 125 students total the past two years.

•  The Taft wrestling program has brought positive press to Taft through the NY Times, Telemundo, and a TEDTalk.

At a time when schools are facing shortfalls in funding, Athletic and Arts programs are the first to get axed, and we understand the nature of that business. Taft consists of 7 small schools, each with a different Principal and seemingly with different agendas, so their budget constraints are even greater. That is precisely why we have collaborated with different community based organizations to make this a turnkey and FREE program to all the schools at Taft.

There is absolutely no rationale for why the building council is opting to cut the wrestling program - a FREE program that has done more for the Taft community in the past two years than any other program in the school. The politics of the building council should NOT interfere with our youth’s basic rights and opportunities.

Please join me and the rest of the Taft wrestling family in urging Taft's Principals to reconsider their resolution immediately. During the time that the program has been cut, we have taken a dozen middle schoolers to practice at another school in the community - a preposterous notion considering that there are unused mats at Taft and personnel, at no cost to the schools, ready to lead the program. This resolution can not stay another day longer!

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Robert Carrillo needs your help with “Taft Educational Campus Principals: Reinstate the Wrestling Program Immediately”. Join Robert and 315 supporters today.