September 4th, 2015 | Uncategorized
When the children filed in for our first eHoops session on Wednesday night, I’ll admit that I was a little apprehensive. I suppose I should tell you why. The eHoops program, a brainchild of the Sport Changes Life organization, aims to improve the lives of the disadvantaged youth in Northern Ireland. These youths are often brought up in communities that are plagued by social issues befitting to a country that has went through a civil war. As a result, these children are often the most at risk to become involved in the situations that may lead to crime that is associated with these social issues. The members of SCL created eHoops in order to provide these youths with a creative outlet in which they can both have fun and gain hope for a brighter future.
The eHoops sessions are held once a week for two hours. They consist of an hour of sport followed by an hour of discussion in a classroom. It seems straightforward enough, so why was I a bit apprehensive? Well, SCL never does anything halfway. The people in charge of it are the real deal. Marc made the comment that, “If you’re not a little crazy, you’re not sane.” I think this quote perfectly embodies the attitudes of my mentors at SCL. They do not wait for at risk children to fall into their laps or to come knocking on the gym door asking to play basketball, because, well, those things would never happen. Instead, they target the most at risk children by going into the most troubled areas and speaking to community leaders within them in order to find the young people that most need their help. They are just crazy enough to delve headfirst and fearlessly into these troubled areas and search for the children that will be hardest to reach. Ironically though, it is just that which makes them saner than most people, because they are able to see through the hardship and heartache that has caused these young people to act out; they are able to see through the walls they have built up, that we all share a common humanity.
I guess my apprehension stemmed from the fact that I wanted to make a difference. I wanted to measure up to the standards epitomized by the SCL organization. I wanted to inspire a light within someone who had perhaps lived in darkness for his or her entire life.
So when I asked one of the young boys to be my partner in a basketball drill and he said no, I was a little disheartened at first. I eventually managed to convince him, and we spent the remainder of the session zigzagging around the court together. Despite this, he was extremely reserved for the entire session and barely spoke a word to me. Although at the time I was disappointed that I wasn’t able to make him laugh or talk more, I later found out that the boy I had paired up with rarely joined in the sport activities. Instead, he usually sat on the bleachers and refused to participate altogether. The fact that he had joined in at all was a feat in itself. My heart grew lighter at hearing this. And I hoped that, maybe, it meant his heart had felt lighter that day too. I realised then that sometimes just turning up and being there with someone is enough to bring a little change into their life.
Victory Scholar: Katie Fox
Present University: Waterford IT
US League: NEC
Club/Community Partner: Waterford Wildcats
Alma Mater: St. Francis College
Sponsored by: Teamwear Ireland