SAN DIEGO - The San Diego Padres today announced the recipient of the third Hispanic Heritage Comunidad Award. Daynara Castillo, a volunteer dance teacher at the Monarch School, has been selected by members of the Padres' Hispanic Community Leadership Council (HCLC) for her dedication to improving the lives of youth, specifically in the area of fitness. She will be honored before tonight's 7:05 p.m. game vs. the San Francisco Giants.
Currently earning her degree in graphic design at San Diego State University, Castillo developed a love of dance from her Colombian-born parents, who raised her in Long Island and Mexico City. Eight years ago she began taking salsa dance classes and it became a passion in her life. When Castillo's family ultimately settled in San Diego, she searched for opportunities to teach dance to others. She began giving lessons to students at the Monarch School, a downtown school dedicated to educating children impacted by homelessness. According to Castillo, the students' reaction to receiving salsa lessons was overwhelmingly positive, and they requested to learn other genres, including tap and hip-hop.
Castillo created the SOLID Rhythm dance program to provide a structured environment for kids to learn adaptive life training and coping skills, while also having fun. SOLID stands for Smile, Opportunity, Love, Innovation, Determination. The SOLID Rhythm program has been expanded to a seven-week summer curriculum teaching a variety of dance styles and leadership lessons. Castillo has also volunteered for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and Junior Achievement. In 2007, she was part of a group that sent 30 pairs of shoes to Africa to students in need.
"The Padres are proud to recognize Daynara Castillo for her commitment to teaching dance to children in our community," said Padres President Tom Garfinkel. "Daynara exemplifies the spirit of the Comunidad Awards and the Padres' commitment to recognizing individuals who transform lives through service and leadership without much fanfare. We applaud her creativity, talent and dedication."
"This is a tremendous and amazing honor for me," said Castillo. "I believe very strongly in giving back and not waiting for a 'right time'. The future is now and I am thankful to give this love of dance to youth that need and want to learn its fitness, beauty and joy."
The Padres' Hispanic Heritage Comunidad Awards were established this season to recognize and pay tribute to individuals or organizations whose work makes a positive impact on those who live and work in San Diego's Hispanic community. In support of the Padres Foundation's community vision, three awards will be given throughout the year, one each in the areas of children's health (LIVE), children's education (LEARN) and youth baseball/softball or youth fitness (PLAY). The first two awards, in the areas of children's health and education, were presented earlier this season to Dr. Raul Trejo of the Scripps Family Medicine Residency Program and Armando Cataño, a teacher at Monroe Clark Middle School in City Heights, respectively.
All three Hispanic Heritage Comunidad Award winners will be honored on the field before the Padres game on Friday, Sept. 28, 2012, as part of Hispanic Heritage Night presented by Verizon.