Thursday, August 23, 2018

400 Chicago Kids From 20 Neighborhoods Shutting Down Balbo Dr. For Basketball Game

We don't usually take the bait for random press releases, but this one came across our inbox and sounded interesting:
On Thursday, over 400 Chicago kids and teens from 20 different Chicago neighborhoods are coming together to shut down a major Downtown intersection for a cross-city basketball tournament.
The event is part of LISC's (Local Initiatives Support Corporation) "Hoops in the Hood" program, a sports-based community safety initiative that turns "hot spots" for violence into safe spaces for youth to interact and build positive relationships with peers and caring adults, while making visible use of public spaces and fostering a sense of community. Each year, approximately 5,000 Chicago kids and teens take part in the program, all at no cost to them.

Off the courts, the players may be rivals — but on the court, they’re teammates.

Benjamin “Benny” Estrada, director of sports-based programs at the New Life Centers of Chicagoland in Little Village, said he’s got about 140 kids and teens between 8 and 19 who participate in his chapter of the program, locally known as “B-Ball on the Block.”

A reformed gang member himself, Estrada knows firsthand the transformative power of community engagement, especially through sports, for kids and adults alike.

“To get young people around positive peers, that’s huge,” he said. “For myself, I hung around a lot of negative peers when I was younger. Once I found that love to play basketball, I wanted to be around those friends because we loved the same thing. It helped me pull myself away from the negative things I was doing.”

The event kicks-off at 9:45 a.m. on Thursday, Aug. 23, Balbo Drive between Columbus and Lake Shore Drive.

No comments: