February 27th, 2012 | Uncategorized
I want to share with you guys my experience with the ehoops program ran through Sport Changes Life which is a 24week program that just started up this month. As many of you might already know, the ehoops program is geared towards “at risk” youth who live in divided communities. Half of the kids are Catholic and the other half Protestant. Over the past few decades there have been serious conflict and rioting between these two groups. Our goal as a program is to bring these divided communities together to help integrate and educate them through sport in hopes of a better future.
As an outsider coming into the culture, it was very much a shock to me how these kids acted towards one another. Coming from America, where historically there would be racial divide, helped me better understand the circumstances that were deeply embedded into the Northern Irish culture.
My responsibility within the ehoops program is to design fun basketball related activities that will help facilitate a sense of self-efficacy and self-confidence in these youth. Many have openly expressed to me that they feel as if their life is a complete failure. Also I have been told by them that there is no other option for them, but to be on the streets. This to me is exactly why I chose to be an International Victory Scholar and apart of the Sport Changes Life Foundation.
Every opportunity I have with these kids I let them know that there are other more positive options. I try to convey this by telling my own personal story of having come from a very supportive family, but neither of my parents went to college nor was I expected to go. By making a few smart decisions at their stage in life, I was able to better myself and others around me.
Never in a million years would I have thought that I would be receiving my master’s degree in Northern Ireland. As cliche as it might sound, I tell these kids that the sky is the limit. Everyone’s path is different and it is up to them to choose theirs.