About the TYCOA Program

It’s long been recognized that the number of at-risk youth in our community continues to grow. This is evidenced by the number of young people today joining gangs at an earlier age. Never before has the challenge been greater, especially in light of the increase in violent offences. This growing problem ultimately impacts all of Tucson’s neighborhoods.

TYCOA’s primary goal, in partnership with Old School Gym, is to first identify those youth to whom our programs would be of interest. Then, with a dedicated cadre of volunteers, guide them in the development of self-respect, respect for others, self-confidence, leadership skills, and a sense of belonging. This is accomplished through participation and training in martial arts and boxing.

TYCOA’s secondary goal is to provide volunteers the opportunity to become mentors and gain an insight into the value of community service. Old School Gym is staffed entirely by volunteers. Mentoring also creates opportunities for all participants to be exposed to the uniqueness of various cultures and the value of diversity in structuring a framework of civility and civic pride.

Some of the activities provided by TYCOA

  • Martial Arts
  • Resiliency Skills
  • Physical Fitness
  • Conflict Resolution
  • Peaceful Problem Solving
  • Portable Challenge Courses
  • Boxing Training
  • Safety and Awareness

TYCOA Programs Encourage and Promote:

  • Empathy
  • Personal Responsibility
  • Respect
  • Determination
  • Critical Thinking
  • Trust
  • Patience
  • Self-Esteem
  • Discipline
  • Leadership Development

Volunteer Leadership
Heading the volunteer staff is founder of TYCOA Chris Valdez. Chris is a former police officer and corrections officer. He has over 25 years experience in working with at-risk youth. Long recognized for his dedicated commitment to community service, he is affectionately referred to as “the coach.”

Here are some comments from a few former participants:
“Going through all the things that I have experienced in my life, I believe that helping others is like therapy to me.” A volunteer coach.

“I think it’s important to see real children in search of a better life and remember what is really important.” A volunteer.

“I like the Old School Gym like a family and trust my coaches. They treat me like I matter.” A former gang member.