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High schoolers toss footballs, get autographs from likes of DK Metcalf, Jamal Adams, Tyler Lockett

COURTESY PHOTO: GRESHAM YOUTH SERVICES DIVISION - A group of East Multnomah County youths visited the Seattle Seahawks training camp last week.  DK Metcalf, Tyler Lockett, Jamal Adams — those were some of the professional football stars that a contingent of 30 East Multnomah County high schoolers got to meet during a day trip last week planned by a new team in Gresham that offers opportunities and outlets for local kids.

The Gresham Youth Services Division, which was formed late last year at the direction of Gresham City Council, chartered a bus to Renton, Wash., so that kids referred by Immigrant & Refugee Community Organization (IRCO) could meet, toss footballs with, and get autographs at the Seattle Seahawks training camp.

COURTESY PHOTO: GRESHAM YOUTH SERVICES DIVISION - Seahawks rookie Boye Mafe met with fans and signed autographs at training camp. They were most excited to meet stars like Metcalf and Adams, who signed footballs and t-shirts, and Lockett, who spent the longest time with the kids talking and laughing.

"All of the kids were chasing after their favorite players," said Emon Ghassemi, youth services manager. "It was great energy and a lot of fun."

This was the latest endeavor for the Youth Services Division, which has been leveraging connections and partnerships to uplift kids. Marcell Frazier, Gresham youth violence prevention coordinator, had played for the Seahawks organization during a stint in the NFL, and was able to secure the tickets through a contact. They took a charter bus for the day trip and had lunch along the way.

"Outings like this show the kids what is available to them — gives them hope," Ghassemi said.

COURTESY PHOTO: GRESHAM YOUTH SERVICES DIVISION - Gresham youths had fun on a day trip to Kenton, Washington, to watch NFL training camp.  The Youth Services Division has also been hosting block parties, weekly basketball, summer internships, free lunches in local parks, and other activities and events alongside community-based partners like Beyond Black CDC, IRCO, Latino Network, New Avenues for Youth, Portland Opportunities Industrialization Center and The Underground.

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