Posted 30/11/2018 11:39:42 AM by Sarah Hillifer

For many of the kids attending elementary school in lower income neighbourhoods, going to school is a chance to get away from a challenging home life. School for these kids is more than just a place to learn to read and write, it’s a place to escape to, “It’s better than hanging out at my house.  It’s bad.  I want to play basketball at the gym.” 


One of the programs offered by the YMCA is a basketball league that is partially funded through donations made to the YMCA Strong Kids Campaign.  For these kids, it’s the only way that they could take part in a program like this.   


A former principal and coach at the YMCA Basketball League, Joe Frank, is more than just a coach to his former players. He is a role model and a leader, and in some cases, a substitute father.  He taught his team about being more than just the fundamentals of basketball, he stressed leadership, a team approach, not being selfish, and looking out for your teammate.  He worked on teaching them how to be good people.  “This is the highlight of their week, it’s what they have to look forward to,” he explains.  “It’s about making a difference in their lives.  You never know what you’ll say today that gets through and helps them make a good choice in the future.”   


For 12 year old Justin, basketball may be his chance at a better life, “I want to play in College and professionally.  Basketball is going to give me a better life.  I won’t be able to pay for my college, but maybe I can get a scholarship.”  For others it’s a way to be with friends and just try to get better.  All the while soaking in the life lessons that Coach Frank is trying to teach them, “I am trying to build strong players, but also strong people.”   


Justin, and kids just like him, wouldn’t have the opportunity the basketball leagues give them without donors like you. 

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