Keeping youth busy has always been one way to combat the city’s violence so one non-profit has partnered with Nike, Inc. to offer Chicago youth free basketball clinics during the third annual World Basketball Festival.
Darren Hammond is the founder of The Darren Group, an organization with the mission of saving inner city youth from the violence that plagues some of Chicago’s communities. He is also known as the former “ball boy” for the Chicago Bulls.
“When they have nothing to do, when they’re not in school, [some of them] get in trouble,” Hammond said.
The Darren Group views the violence as a disease, so with that perspective, Hammond said it’s important to treat it as any other disease–find a cure. The organization strives to end youth violence by educating people and putting more resources into those communities. Nike, Jordan Brand and USA Basketball are bringing The World Basketball Festival to the 63rd Street Beach House Thursday, Aug. 14 through Aug. 16. Hammond said that the event and the clinics will keep the youth busy and out of the streets.
One mother brought 12 children from her neighborhood, along with her 13 and 15-year-old sons to do just that.
“There’s a lot of violence in Chicago and my biggest goal is to keep my kids absent from all of that,” Chanel Moody said. “Keeping them absent from that means you have to put them in something to keep them motivated to stay positive.”
Two years ago, Nike partnered with the City of Chicago to create free summer basketball clinics in parks across the city called Chi League Parks for youth. Nike spokeswoman Lisa Beachy said that with The World Basketball Festival coming to Chicago, Nike saw it as an opportunity to extend what it already does through Chi League Parks. The event is taking place in Chicago because of its rich basketball heritage, Beachy said.
“We are elevating our commitment to the city, getting kids active, getting them involved, and they’re able to take away life skills,” Beachy said.
The young participants are taught five values: visionary goal setting, self-determination, accountability, integrity and positive anger management. Tina Kenebrew said she really likes the values her three sons David, 10, Devin, 9 and Dylon, 7 are being taught during their break out sessions.
“Every time they switch groups, they give them a positive message about something like stay in school, follow your own mind, be a leader,” Kenebrew said.
Kenebrew’s son David said he enjoys meeting new people and learning more about the sport.
“I learned to help my teammates and to pass the ball more,” he said.
The youth come from all over Chicago, including some suburbs. Nike’s goal is to reach 5,000. Many come from single parent homes and poverty stricken neighborhoods. Nancy Jackson of Prologue Schools, an alternative high school said this opportunity is really good for those youth. She brought 250 to Wednesday’s clinic.
“Our students rarely get an opportunity to even leave their neighborhoods,” Jackson said. “They have been able to go all over the city, to a very peaceful environment, to play basketball and meet new kids.”
Jackson called their experiences a “cultural exchange.”
The skills clinics are split into two age groups. Coaches work with eight to 12-year-olds and 13 to 18-year-olds from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Walk-ups are available if there’s space, but a parent or guardian’s signature is required.
Nike has committed to refurbish the Hayes Court and the Jackson Park Cages. Some members of the USA Basketball Men’s Team will make two appearances at the 63rd Street Beach House. They will train for the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup and work with the youth in the skills clinics.