Lakers Open Reading and Learning Center


On Wednesday, October 15th, the Los Angeles Lakers, Toyota and the NBA teamed up to unveil the season’s first Lakers Reading & Learning Center at the Boys & Girls Club of East Los Angeles. The renovation project dramatically transformed three rooms and a hallway at the 60 year old Club. New carpet, paint, furniture, wall graphics, books, audio/visual equipment, framed photos and computers were all provided with funding from The Lakers Youth Foundation and Toyota Project Rebound. This project is the team’s 12th Lakers Reading & Learning Center to date.

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Lakers Derek Fisher, Pau Gasol, Sasha Vujacic, Andrew Bynum, Luke Walton and several Lakers Girls joined NBA great, Clyde Drexler and representatives from Toyota at the unveiling ceremony. Derek Fisher spoke to the crowd of more than 100 children. He urged the students to view the new Reading & Learning Center as a sign that adults do care about them, and their futures. Derek also told stories about how he spent much of his childhood at a Boys and Girls Club in his hometown of Little Rock, Arkansas. “I got into trouble there,” Derek admitted to the students, “but a lot of my dreams started there, too.”

After the ribbon-cutting ceremony, the players made their way into the newly renovated rooms to enjoy the new facilities with the students. In the Lakers Reading Room, a space that is designated for elementary school aged children, Pau Gasol and Derek Fisher read to the students. Pau, Derek and Clyde took turns reading pages from the classic children’s book, Curious George Visits the Library.

Meanwhile, Andrew Bynum, Luke Walton and Sasha Vujacic visited The Club, the organization’s new room designated for teenagers. Andrew and Luke challenged some teens to a heated game of the Lakers edition of Monopoly. Andrew taught the teens a lesson in the power of capital by acquiring hotels for his properties and collecting heavy rents! Sasha Vujacic and other teens played the new Xbox video game systems. The teens’ game of choice was Dance Dance Revolution, a dance themed game which requires players to jump up and down on a video pad. Though his ankle injury kept him from doing any dancing, Sasha was able to show-off his moves and coordination by using the Xbox’s handheld controller. The Lakers Girls even joined the fun, playing with some teens on the new foosball table.

The unveiling tipped-off the second season of Toyota Project Rebound, a community initiative established by the NBA and Toyota. The program includes 15 hands-on community service projects that will be hosted by NBA and WNBA teams, and will include court refurbishments, the creation of Learn & Play Centers, and other Legacy Projects providing youth safe places to live, learn or play. Projects have been scheduled throughout the 2008-09 season, including during major events like NBA All-Star and The Finals.

The Lakers Youth Foundation would like to thank Anna Araujo and the Boys and Girls Club of East Los Angeles for their hospitality during the event and for all the work they do throughout the year. The club provides a safe and positive environment for their 2500 members. Over 300 students visit the club every day to participate in homework assistance, sports, music, arts and leadership programs. The Lakers Reading Room is sure to make the Boys and Girls Club of East Los Angeles even more of a destination for students, and in so doing, make an impact in the lives of the area’s youth.