Brittanee Oakley is all about community. It was a community of family, coaches and teachers who helped her journey into leadership. Rising up through difficult times, Brittanee now gets to provide that same sense of community for the next generation of youth at PeacePlayers LA partner school, Inner City Education Foundation (ICEF) View Park, as a coach, physical education teacher and behavioral interventionist.
ICEF View Park, a college preparatory school for primarily Black and Hispanic/Latino young people, embraces a “3 As” approach: academics, arts and athletics. Of course, that third A, Athletics, is where PeacePlayers comes in. “Every time my kids come from a PeacePlayers event, they’re pumped. Like even last Monday, I mean, it’s practice. But when I got here on Tuesday, my kids are just like, ‘Oh my God.”
When Brittanee was a child, her mother raised her on her own and worked nights to be able to provide. Brittanee attributes the love and support of a league of aunts and cousins for helping her get through those challenging years. “And then when you turn to the school side, you knew those teachers that cared. You knew those coaches that cared, coaches you were able to share stories with.” Brittanee, along with PeacePlayers and the rest of the ICEF team are creating that village, making sure that “[those young people] know that it’s not only mom that can care. And it’s not only dad that can care; you can definitely receive pure love and genuine guidance from the people around you.”
But Brittanee’s not some well meaning outsider – she was actually part of the first graduating class of ICEF View Park, where she now works. In fact, she’s been a part of ICEF staff since the year after graduating high school. “Being able to give my kids something like that, just to be able to say, Hey, I came from here, this is what can happen, this is what you can do; This is what you shouldn’t do. I think it gives our kids a better outlook on where they can actually go.”
“As you talk to kids, you start to see who you’re supposed to become for them. And I think that’s kind of what happened to me. I think as I started to hear how kids felt about me, I started to see who I was supposed to be for those kids. So I think every year, I’m just kind of transitioning, like adding on to me, like a Tetris, like building blocks or something.”
In July of this past year, Brittanee took the ICEF-PeacePlayers collaboration to the next level when she joined 130 PeacePlayers youth from around the globe for Friendship Games week in Israel. From seeing what PeacePlayers was doing in LA, Brittanee got to see what we’re doing around the world.
The Friendship Games sparked something new for Brittanee, and the way she’s creating a sense of community for young people at her school.
“I am much more appreciative of PeacePlayers as a whole. I was already just blown away, but just to know that you guys are just spread out all across the globe and bringing all these kids together, shifted my purpose, too, because I started to understand more that there’s a bigger world outside of just L.A..”