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    Seahawks' Carroll is more than a football coach


    By John Boyle, Everett Herald Columnist

    When Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll heard there was a chance to bring something good to Seattle, something that could attract thousands of enthusiastic fans, he jumped at the opportunity.

    And no, we're not talking about newly acquired Seahawks Percy Harvin, Cliff Avril or Michael Bennett.

    A couple of years ago, Carroll heard Craig Kielburger speak at an event in Tacoma, and he came away impressed by the Canadian activist. Carroll decided to track down Kielburger, who with his brother Marc, formed the charity Free The Children. A number of conversations followed, and when Carroll heard that Free The Children was planning on having its first We Day event in the United States, Carroll did all he could to get the event in Seattle.

    We Day, which will take place at KeyArena on Wednesday, is, as Free The Children explains it, a "stadium-sized educational event and the movement of our time -- a movement of young people leading local and global change."

    Tickets to the event had to be earned by students through service, not purchased, and more than 15,000 elementary, middle school and high school students, including students from more than 30 Snohomish County schools, are expected to attend. We Day will educate those students about service, but it is also a reward for the work they've already done through a year-long program called We Act.

    Among the list of performers and speakers are Magic Johnson, Carroll, Martin Sheen, Gary Payton, Nelly Furtado, MC Hammer, Jennifer Hudson and Seahawks Russell Wilson, Russell Okung, Richard Sherman and John Moffitt.

    "It's an extraordinary program, it's an ongoing program where young people can find ways to do service locally and globally," Carroll said. "The opportunity not just to start the work, but to be mentored through it as well by experienced people who support We Day in the schools and in the communities where they live. It's just an extraordinary opportunity for young people to figure out how much power they truly have and how much good they can do. We know when they start here, they'll begin a life of service, and we feel very fortunate to bring this to the education system here in the Northwest."

    We Day started in Toronto in 2007 and has continued to grow, and when Kielburger told Carroll they were expanding to the U.S., Carroll made sure Seattle was the first stop.

    "When I realized that We Day was going to come to the United States, I made a pitch to him that we could start this thing in Seattle," Carroll said. "The conversation went on and on, and we eventually got here where we're a few days away from We Day."

    And it really should be no surprise that Carroll pushed so hard for this. Carroll will always be best known as a football coach, but when his coaching career comes to an end, he sincerely hopes his legacy will have less to do with wins, losses and even championships, and more to do with the lives he affected in a positive way.

    Before starting his first season as the Seahawks head coach, Carroll didn't hesitate when asked about the importance of the work his foundation A Better LA was doing to help end youth and gang violence in Los Angles.

    "It's a million times more important (than football)," he said. "It is definitely more important. I wish I knew how to do more."

    Carroll has spent his time in Seattle figuring out how to do more. While staying involved with A Better LA, Carroll also got A Better Seattle up and running. And when he saw another opportunity to bring good to the area in the form of We Day, Carroll jumped at the opportunity.

    Carroll didn't see himself as an activist when he helped start A Better LA in 2003, he just got tired of hearing about the senseless violence that was taking place in his city and decided to figure out if he could use his influence to help.

    "I didn't set out to do this, I just found my way to it," Carroll said. "Because of the success we had in L.A., it was easier to get started here. One of the things we wanted to do with A Better LA was to demonstrate a model that could be successful in other settings. ... It worked out (creating A Better Seattle) and it's a big statement that we're on the right path."

    Too often in sports, off-the-field stories involve athletes or coaches getting in trouble or doing something that embarrasses themselves or a team, so it's worth pointing out when an event like We Day brings out the best in athletes or celebrities.

    Seahawks fans hope Carroll brings a Super Bowl to Seattle soon; what he helped bring to the area this week, however, has the power to have a much more meaningful impact.


    A Better Seattle - "Resilience" 

    As part of a monthly series, A Better Seattle introduces you to stories throughout the Seattle area of individuals making a positive impact on our community. Today we meet 17 year-old Marcuita Roach, here is her story.


    Pete Carroll has a Capitol idea

    Pete Carroll isn’t just the face of A Better Seattle. He took his message to the Capitol on Wednesday, when the Seahawks’ coach showed his passion and commitment to helping at-risk kids.

    By Clare Farnsworth,

    OLYMPIA, Wash. – Pete Carroll has a vision. He would like to change the vision for those youths growing up in neighborhoods where dying or going to jail seem to be the only alternatives.

    The Seahawks’ coach took his message to the Washington state legislature on Wednesday, looking to generate additional financial support for A Better Seattle – which funds youth outreach activities in the greater Seattle area and is patterned after the A Better L.A. program he started while coaching at the University of Southern California.

    “There’s a vision that we found in dealing with A Better L.A. that I know is here, too,” Carroll said. “Kids that are in these difficult situations feel like they’re either going to die or they’re going to go to jail. I used to listen to them tell me that time and time again.

    “I would hear that and it finally hit me, that’s their vision and absolutely you’re right. That’s exactly what’s going to happen. It showed me how clear it was that we’re in the business of helping kids shape a new vision with hope.”

    It’s that vision of refocusing those kids’ vision which led Carroll to hitting the end of the campaign trail. As he arrived at the Capitol, a 12th Man flag was being raised by 9-year-old Reid Larsen, who was wearing a Russell Wilson No. 3 jersey and a Seahawks hardhat.

    Once in the Capitol, Carroll’s whirlwind visit began in the office of Frank Chopp, where the House speaker explained to the Seahawks’ coach what his agenda for the morning would be and Carroll laid out the goals of A Better Seattle. From there, Carroll was escorted to the Reception Room, where he was greeted by a receiving line of dignitaries and workers – posing for photos and signing everything from Seahawks jerseys to footballs to mini helmets to copies of his book, “Win Forever.”

    Then, it was on to the House Chamber, where Carroll was greeted by a standing ovation. That was followed by visits to the Democratic and Republican caucus rooms, with the Democrats presenting Carroll with a Seahawks flag signed by each representative and Carroll reciprocating by giving caucus leader Eric Pettigrew a 12th Man Flag.

    From there, it was on to the office of Gov. Jay Inslee, which was followed by a visit to the Senate chamber and a final visit to the office of Sen. Rodney Tom.

    At each stop, Carroll’s message and setup were the same. He began by talking about the success of the Seahawks’ 2012 season before transitioning seamlessly into his message of helping at-risk kids find success in their lives.

    “I’m fired up about our football team, but we’re here for a different reason today,” Carroll said. “We’re hoping to continue to spread the message and save some lives and save some families.”

    Carroll also retold the story of how A Better L.A. got started. He recalled the Monday he was driving to work at USC and heard on the radio that four youths had been shot and killed over the weekend in gang-related issues.

    “On Tuesday, it was two more kids and then three more kids,” Carroll said. “But Thursday, it was 11 kids that had died in related issues.”

    Carroll had always wanted to do something to help these kids where violence is part of their daily life. That proved to be the impetus.

    “We didn’t know what to do, so we called a meeting – kind of like this,” he told the Democratic caucus. “We got the word out that we wanted to talk about what’s going on. We didn’t know what we were, who we were; we had no idea what we were going to get done.”

    One meeting led to another. Getting more influential people onboard led to others getting involved.

    “What happened was, we started a dialogue. We started a language that in time became a vocabulary for us,” Carroll said.

    The talk turned to action, which prompted reactions.

    “I asked the people that were involved at the time, ‘If you want to get involved, just do what you say you’re going to do. And if you’re not, just be quiet and let us do what we’re going to do and see what happens,” Carroll said.

    What happened was A Better L.A., which has spurned A Better Seattle.     

    A Better Seattle already is receiving financial support from the Legislature, but with more it could do even more.

    “We need support. We need more outreach workers,” Carroll said. “The outreach workers are really the most valuable players in this process. Law enforcement can only do so much. They can connect in certain ways.

    “We need people from the communities that can speak directly to the kids, really one-on-one. The work that’s to be done here is really one-on-one. It’s really one person sitting down on a park bench with a kid and helping him create a vision of hope rather than one of despair.”

    And that, again, is why Carroll visited the Legislators.

    “We’re off and running and things are moving very well,” Carroll said. “We’re here today to try and just generate interest and understanding of what the effort is all about on this level. The state level is really important to us for funding.

    “We have really kicked something into high gear and we’re hoping that we can make a lot of headway and make kids’ lives better and safer, communities a little bit safer, paths to schools safer and really give kids the chance to have the lives they deserve.”

    When it came to Pettigrew, a representative from Seattle, Carroll was preaching to the choir. Pettigrew grew up in the South Central area of Los Angeles that is near the USC campus – 77th and McKinley.

    “There are so many issues that come up in the legislature every single year,” Pettigrew said. “One year, it might be youth and gang intervention. The next year, it might not be. So having Pete here kind of keeps it at the forefront, it keeps the support and the resources that we’re trying to get.

    “So it just makes my life so much easier knowing that there’s a possibility that I can get $250,000, if not more, into the budget specifically for youth intervention.”

    But for those who might not see Carroll’s vision as clearly as Pettigrew, the passion in Carroll’s presentations was eye-opening.

    “It was great to hear him talk about it up on the rostrum and address the body,” said Sen. Sharon Brown, who represents the 8th District. “It gave us pause to think about what’s really important in life. Sometimes we get a little caught up in what we’re doing here on the Senate floor. But what he was talking about is what’s truly important.”

    While Carroll was providing the prodding words, and the recipient of the standing ovations, he repeatedly stressed that the real heroes when it comes to A Better Seattle are those involved in the outreach program who take his message to those at-risk kids through the YMCA’s Alive & Free program.

    “I think Pete did a brilliant job, and I think leveraging his position and his passion all in one place was remarkable,” Alive & Free director Eleuthera Lisch said on the Capitol steps as Carroll was leaving. “It could not have been a better thing for the cause.”


    Pete Carroll’s A Better Seattle contributes funding to support Saturday’s gun buyback event

    SEATTLE – A Better Seattle, a Seattle Seahawks community outreach program led by Head Coach Pete Carroll, has donated $10,000 to support the Gun Safety Initiative, including the gun buyback program. Initiative organizers also announced that Saturday’s buyback event will include a buyback of high capacity magazines.

    “Our gun buyback program will help protect public health and safety and reduce gun violence in our communities," said McGinn. "I thank all of our sponsors and community partners for coming together to make this program possible. The rapidly growing community support for this effort and louder calls for stricter gun control laws in our country from President Obama are good signs that we are moving in the right direction.”

    “We are committed to reducing youth violence in our community and proudly join this larger collection of corporations, private citizens and community organizations who have come together to provide the financial support to make the gun buyback program a reality,” said Pete Carroll, A Better Seattle Founder and Seattle Seahawks Head Coach.

    “This is another important step in achieving our shared vision of creating safe environments, especially for our youth. The City’s Gun Safety Initiative demonstrates leadership and teamwork by our elected officials, the Seattle Police Department and the numerous agencies who have collaborated on this project,” said Carroll.

    “I am grateful to all the contributors who have stepped forward to try to prevent tragedy by making this gun buyback possible,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine.

    Founded by Seahawks Head Coach Pete Carroll in 2011, A Better Seattle is designed to create a culture of safety and peace by reaching at-risk youth and reducing violence in our communities. A Better Seattle serves as a unifying force to develop partnerships between corporations, law enforcement and community groups to build healthy communities and reduce youth violence. Their donation will help purchase gift cards that will be used as an incentive for individuals to turn in weapons and high capacity magazines at the gun buyback event.

    The total private financial support for the gun buyback effort now stands at $118,100. The Seattle Police Foundation is acting as the coordinator for the event and has donated $25,000. Donors include Amazon ($30,000), Nick and Leslie Hanauer ($25,000), UW Medical Center ($10,000), and PEMCO ($5,000).

    The first gun buyback event will be held this Saturday, January 26, from 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM at 600 7th Avenue, in the Republic Parking lot. This is beneath Interstate 5, between Cherry and James Streets. Signs will be posted on site with specific directions.


    Participants should unload and secure the weapon in the trunk of the vehicle or in a locked container prior to transport. Individuals should not attempt to unload the firearm if they are not familiar with the weapon. Upon arrival at the gun buyback location, individuals will be advised to leave the firearm in the vehicle until contacted by a uniformed Seattle Police officer. The officer will meet individuals at their vehicle and safely retrieve weapons, magazines or ammunition from the vehicle. Once any weapons are rendered safe, officers will return to the vehicle with the appropriate gift card compensation. 

    Those who are not driving to the event are asked to secure the unloaded weapon in a box prior to bringing the weapon on site. Such individuals should contact a Seattle Police officer on site prior to entering the location, and notify the officer that they would like to turn in the weapon. Individuals will be escorted to the drop off location.

    In exchange for a weapon, individuals will receive up to $100.00 gift card for hand guns, shotguns, & rifles, and up to $200.00 gift card for assault weapons. Police armorers will be on site to determine if a weapon is functional and/or intact. Full gift card value will only be given for working weapons.

    The event will also include an offer of additional gift cards for “high capacity” magazines, but they MUST accompany the weapon. Gift cards will not be offered for magazines only. Gift cards in the following values will be offered:

    $10 gift cards per magazine for more than 10 rounds (handguns)
    $15 gift cards per magazine for 50 – 100 rounds
    $25 gift cards per magazine for over 100 rounds

    A detailed FAQ for Saturday’s event can be found at


    We Day - Seattle 

    On March 27, 2013 We Day Seattle will bring together 15,000 young people at Seattle's Key Arena to celebrate the power of youth to create positive change in their local and global communities.