October 24, 2014
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Winn-Dixie District Director Mohamed Abul-Hawa, center left, with members of ELEVATE New Orleans. The organization provides at-risk youth an opportunity to receive crucial life skills and to team up and have fun playing basketball.​

Winn-Dixie forged another strong tie to the New Orleans community when District Director Mohamed Abul-Hawa teamed up with ELEVATE New Orleans.

The organization focuses on developing at-risk youth in the inner city. Abul-Hawa said he heard about the great impact ELEVATE New Orleans was making on the lives of local teenagers under the leadership of Sky Hyacinthe, founder and executive director of the organization.

The vision is simple - to elevate the life skills and abilities of inner city student-athletes in America through mentor-based programs in athletics, academics and social development.

This community-minded program implements an integrated approach which teaches students to develop balanced skillsets, and in the end, produces well-rounded individuals that are armed with the tools needed to excel in education as well as other aspects of life.

The curriculum consists of daily tutoring from Loyola University students, leadership development programs, student outings, job placement, mentoring and field trips while also incorporating sports to teach day-to-day life skills. Abul-Hawa recently attended an outing to play basketball with ELEVATE students and instantly became a believer in the program.

“I grew up in the inner city playing basketball and learning the beneficial life skills that come from participating in sports – teamwork, leadership, discipline,” said Abul-Hawa. “Basketball was my saving grace and a safe place for my friends and I to get together and stay out of trouble. I have so much respect for the valuable qualities ELEVATE continues to teach the youth in our community.”

ELEVATE has consistently yielded a level of success that is almost unbelievable. Since 2008, the ELEVATE Leadership Program has sent 100 percent of its students to college on partial or full scholarships.

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