The Malibu Youth Dolphin Award means more than just another award for Malibu High senior Ife Houzell, who is no amateur when it comes to giving back to the Malibu community.
With more than 300 hours of community service through the Boys and Girls Club, Houzell is actively involved in programs such as Leaders in Training, Goals for Graduation, Managers in Training, Smart Girls, Career Launch and serves as an intern to the club.
Among the many programs she participates in, Houzell stands out for one in particular: The Juan Cabrillo Glee Club. Leading the elementary school’s singing group, Houzel is devoted to using her own experiences and love for music to help these young students find their own voices.
“In a way, I’m trying to help people have a voice. When I was younger, I thought I didn’t have a voice and I believe everyone should be able to express how they feel,” Houzell explained.
Houzell starts her classes by encouraging the elementary students to get out of their comfort zones by performing any song of their choice. She emphasized that even when people are too shy, she allows their friends to come together and join them in a song. In her efforts to create a safe space for these children, Houzell strives to show these kids that it is okay to be themselves.
Reflecting on her motivations to get involved, Houzell added, “Most of my school life has been hard. I’ve gone through many different challenges, from being bullied and being judged on my learning disability, so doing these things makes me proud that I can help someone. I want [the elementary schoolers] to feel like they have someone to talk to and be them and not be judged,” concluded Houzell.
Houzell continues to work hard encouraging children to be themselves.