Given OjoOido’s tripart standard of excellence required of its Role Models, it is natural to assume that only seasoned adults or young professionals would be capable of meeting this criteria. Then you meet John-Paul Velasquez.
In an earlier post, OjoOido laid out the importance Intergenerational Latino Role Models play in addressing the Latino education gap and, correspondingly, the three categories/criteria OjoOido would use to select its Role Models. First, the OjoOido Role Model has demonstrated ethical conduct that serves as an ethical template for the exercise of adult responsibilities. Second, the OjoOido Role Model serves as a symbol of special achievement. Third, the OjoOido Role Model must be a nurturer that can provide special educational services.
Given OjoOido’s tripart standard of excellence required of its Role Models, it is natural to assume that only seasoned adults or young professionals would be capable of meeting this criteria. Then you meet John-Paul Velasquez. John-Paul, known to his family and friends simply as “JP,” encapsulates all three categories of an OjoOido Intergenerational Latino Role Model at the ripe old age of 15. As a high school student-athlete at Orange Lutheran, in Orange County, California, JP cultivated his love for baseball into a way to brighten, encourage and inspire the lives of children in Nicaragua.
After an eye-opening family trip to Nicaragua when he was 8 years of age, JP’s mind and heart were opened to the realities of poverty that the children of Nicaragua were exposed to on a daily basis. In particular, JP was struck by the lack of recreational baseball equipment that Nicaraguan children had access to. As the Orange Country Register article recounts, “children had been using a metal bat with no grip, one batting helmet with no padding and a few dirty, well-worn baseballs. Some players used their caps to catch fly balls…” This awareness eventually sparked action in the form of the creation of the Nicaragua Baseball Project.
Commitment to Studies & Use of Study Skills
At 15 years old, JP exemplifies many of the core skills shared by our other OjoOido Role Models: time management, goal setting and prioritization. As a student-athlete, JP faces many competing demands. He must balance his studies, his baseball training and his commitment to the Nicaragua Baseball Project. Student-athletes must constantly and effectively balance the roles of being a full-time student and a full-time athlete. If not, then one of these roles would suffer.
To balance his roles of student and athlete, while leaving adequate time to dedicate to service to others, JP is required to make use of fundamental time management skills. It will become clear from JP’s story that his conscious and deliberate use of study habits/skills—the processes of learning to achieve effective study practices—allow him to juggle multiple demands. As an OjoOido Intergenerational Latino Role Model, John Paul “brings home” the idea that Latino students can and should be helped to develop conscious, deliberate control over the mechanisms of their own learning. Although the set of study habits/skills is large, the core fundamental skills are time-management, goal-setting, prioritization, utilizing the Time Matrix, and writing a study action plan—all skills taught and supported by the OjoOido Time Management Module.
Commitment to Service
The Nicaragua Baseball Project is an initiative that collects, sorts and cleans baseball equipment to be donated to impoverished towns in Nicaragua in an effort to bring the game of baseball to those children who lack equipment to play. Since its creation, the Nicaragua Baseball Project has garnered significant attention and support in both the US and abroad. Such news coverage can be seen here: NBC interview and Spanish broadcast.
There is no person better suited to describe his personal motivations and inspiration for his work in Nicaragua than JP himself:
“The first time in my life that I have truly seen poverty up close and personal was when I went to Nicaragua as a small child. There were children roaming the streets with nothing to eat and vendors at every intersection selling bubble gum, snacks, and chargers to support their families. It amazed me to see that not everybody lived the same comfortable life style that I was living in the United States.
It wasn’t until years later that I, still just a kid, saw that I could do something about it and make an impact on lives thousands of miles from home. Before a trip back to Nicaragua when I was in eighth grade, I remembered seeing kids playing baseball without any equipment. Then011, I realized that I had a lot of extra baseball equipment at home that they could use and so did a lot of my friends.
God put it in my heart to multiply my blessings by blessing others, and that’s where the Nicaragua Baseball Project was born. Since then, we’ve taken two trips to Nicaragua and have brought hundreds of kids baseball equipment as well as shared the Gospel with them. It’s been amazing to see how greatly this simple mission has been able to impact the lives of so many kids and their parents in Nicaragua. However, it’s been just as satisfying to see how many people have been touched by our testimony.”
JP, whose mother grew-up in Nicaragua and whose father immigrated from Mexico, was able to not only appreciate and recognize his privileged background at a young age, a lesson that can not always be taught, but was able to translate this recognition into a vehicle of change and improvement for the lives of others. As theOrange Country Register poignantly concluded, “This one boy has already made a world of difference.”
The OjoOido team applauds JP, his family and all those who continue to contribute to the Nicaragua Baseball Project for theirethical conduct, special achievementand nurturing commitment to improving the lives of children.
See. Hear. Learn!