Sometimes it’s nice to take a break from the noise inside the education debates and focus instead on something good—like free basketball clinics for kids during school vacation. (Click here and here to read more recent “away from the noise” stories from Rhode Island.)
Just a day or two into the recent vacation week in April, I noticed posts and photos in my newsfeed about free basketball clinics happening in and around Boston for kids of all ages. I got curious and decided to find out a bit more. It turns out that the Massachusetts chapter of Families for Excellent Schools was looking for a way to unite families and also serve parents who were struggling to entertain their kids over break and came up with the idea of basketball clinics. The basketball idea quickly turned into YMCA and Boys and Girls Club rentals in Lynn, Hyde Park, and East Boston, as well as partnerships with the Athletic Directors from the KIPP, MATCH, and EXCEL Academy charter communities, and with the Beast ‘Em Basketball Training Academy.
While FES took charge of getting information home to parents in students’ backpacks, and providing basketballs, facilities, and T-shirts, the coaches from Beast ‘Em were fully in charge of the clinics. The motto of the organization is “teaching life lessons through the game of basketball.”
Every clinic was over capacity with parents and kids loving the opportunity. The days varied by age and sessions were three hours each. Snacks and drinks were provided for all students in attendance.
Keri Rodrigues Lorenzo, self described mother of three crazy boys who also happens to be the Massachusetts state director for Families for Excellent Schools, was at the clinics every day and described the basketball initiative this way:
The heart of our work at FES is building a movement of parents united together with a strong sense of community. We are powerful frontline advocates for our kids and our school communities and we’re tackling some amazing things. But as a parent led organization, our inspiration comes from our children. And knowing first hand how important it is that kids are always at the center of everything we do — being able to partner with schools through these kinds of programs gives us the ability to connect directly with our communities and we’re blessed to be able to do it.
Shane Dunn, Managing Director of Strategic Growth and Development for Excel Academy Charter Schools, had this to say about the free vacation clinics:
It was great to see some of our students participating in a fun healthy activity over school break. The kids had a great time and even the most talented athletes learned something. We are grateful to Families for Excellent Schools for organizing the clinic and providing this opportunity.
So while battles continue in Boston and statewide between unions, parents, and state lawmakers, a whole lot of kids got to improve their basketball skills during school vacation thanks to a really cool idea and a few people willing to form partnerships on behalf of urban youth.