Perla Orozco

Many children are broken down by the harsh realities of the Tenderloin. Sometimes it’s easy to overlook the ones who excel in spite of the temptations to do otherwise. But Perla Orozco is a child whose achievements demand she be noticed.

For the past two years, Perla and her older sister have lived with their mother in TNDC’s Ramona Apartments. But her connection to TNDC began five years ago with her involvement in the Tenderloin After-School Program (TASP).

Nuts about Sports
A chatty nine-year-old with numerous interests, one thing Perla absolutely loves is sports. Enrolled in judo classes through TASP, she earned her yellow belt and even participated in a judo competition in April. And what exactly does she like about judo? “Everything,” Perla answers, without hesitation. But her love of sports is not limited to judo. Perla becomes more animated recounting the soccer and kickball games at school, and football games at Tenderloin’s Boedekker Park. When it comes to baseball, she says, “Baseball is hard, but you have to learn.”

Academic Achievement
In addition to a summer filled with outdoor activities, she took part in TASP’s Summer Reading Program. Her love of reading propelled her to complete the program with honors as one of the top readers.

Named Student of the Month in third grade, Perla is unassuming when talking about her accomplishments. In mentioning that the teacher has to pick a different student each month, she gives recognition to the other students who received the award.

Song and Dance
On top of sports and academic pursuits, she possesses an interest in singing and dancing. One by one, she spouts out the name of songs she’s learning in class. Her teacher, who used to be a cheerleader, is teaching the “Cheerleader’s Song” to the class. Perla says it’s fun to do the routine with the cheer.

And speaking of routines, Perla and four other girls in TASP are learning a “Step” they will perform in the Dance Competition at the Tenderloin Community Health Fair. Her sister has competed and won prizes because “she’s good.” When asked if she thinks she’ll win a prize, Perla simply smiles and shrugs her shoulders.

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