How do you persevere when everything around you says you can't reach your dreams?
How do you stay motivated when you don't have a support system in place to keep you encouraged?
How do you plan and set goals for yourself when there isn't an entity set up to reach out to you and talk you through it?
These are many of the issues we find our young people facing today, especially our inner city kids. Some of our most talented kids get left by the wayside simply because they lose hope, and have no direction.
How does a person dream about being successful when their environment tells them that success doesn't exist for them. As you browse the web you find thousand upon thousand organizations that state their mission is to help kids and families in struggling communities but as you ride through some of those communities you see nothing but lost and forgotten about talent walking the streets. We say our kids today is the "lost generation" but have we done everything in our power as business owners, mentors, teachers, preachers, counselors, and coaches to make sure that these kids have the tools necessary to be successful or have we given up? It breaks my heart to walk into a facility or a gym in our neighborhoods and watch kids being thrown out of the building but yet the facility's mission statement clearly says "We are here to help ignite life and prosperity for the community" I can't tell you how many times I have tried to enter into a community based facility and couldn't get it, the doors are locked, the programs no longer exist, the kids have no where to go but these same people will complain that something should be done about gang violence and teen pregnancy, school drop out rates, and the dependency on government funded programs. I don't get it! This doesn't add up to me. We complain about our kids wearing sagging pants, throwing up gang signs, excessive tattoos on their bodies, the speaking of "hood" slang talk, not being given the same opportunities as our more affluent kids get, but there isn't anything consistently available for them to feed into. We call them lazy, dumb, disrespectful and angry but isn't what we see today a cry for help? I have watched young athletes be taken advantaged of because of their talents and the connection it brought to get sponsored by NIKE, or REEBOK but those same kids have no one helping them get into COLLEGE! I have witnessed kids being locked out of a building and told to go home while other kids from outside neighborhoods were allowed in to use the equipment and the building. Wow just think what would happen if everyone really did TEACH ONE. Imagine the success stories! the changing of lives. What a world this would be. If we would feed our future generations and give them opportunities to grow and develop into productive citizens, what a society this would be! I have found some of my most talented athletes hanging out at the parks playing ball on a concrete court competing like its a NBA Championship!
Rucker Park is a basketball court in Harlem neighborhood of New York City. Holcombe L. Rucker was a teacher and the Director of the Parks and Recreation department of New York. He started a basketball tournament in the 50's to help less fortunate kids stay off the streets and aim for college careers. This tournament grew annually and become the place to be if you wanted to be scouted by coaches. Through this opportunity many of those kids, and I mean MANY, were able to attend top colleges and some even made it to the NBA and are our super stars today, like Kenny Smith, Chris Mullin, Rafer "Skip to my Lou" Alston. Several of those athletes from Rucker Park like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Julius "Dr. J" Erving, Wilt Chamberlain, . made it to the Hall of Fame others made names for themselves as coaches, street-ballers, musicians and more. I attended a documentary premiere while I was in Europe entitled Doin' It In The Park and I left inspired and even more motivated to be a part of a movement that helps our young talent find their place in this 21st Century. Mr. Rucker was dedicated and died without getting to see the results. The park is still the home of basketball players today and the tournament continues. Programs like Each One Teach One are still in progress through the school and his dream is still alive. The next step should be for those famous NBA players now to give back to the communities, not just through name but through getting involved in the communities where the kids can see them and reach them.
Rucker Park in New York
I watched a recent airing of 'Open Court' hosted by some of NBA stars and one of the things they discussed was what our young talent need in order to be successful. They all have foundations in place, and do the normal events that we see previews of on T.V. but I really believe that if they would put more money into communities and make themselves more accessible with those programs our kids would have something to reach for and work for. We forget where we come from sometimes and that is what also hurts our neighborhoods. Its time to stop talking the talk and start walking the walk. Lets open the doors of opportunity for our neighborhoods, our kids, our families, our schools and push our gifted and talented in the direction of success. We need more consistency with programs, and community centers. We need funding and open partnerships for after-school programs. We need qualified people working with our kids. We need workshops and seminars that focus on building better self-esteem, parenting, and how to live healthy lives. We need churches to reach out and feed in every-way the communities in which their church lives. We need School Districts to open their doors to outside non-profit organizations and programs. We need the city to find ways to allow organizations to work with them bringing programs that will enhance the community. Its time to stop complaining and DO SOMETHING!
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BIO: LaQuita Thompson is the owner of XTREME HEAT SPORTS MANAGEMENT. She is a certified Professional Fitness Trainer specializing in sports performance and rehab. LaQuita also is a talent scout for her Sister Company based in Switzerland where she has been instrumental in helping young athletes secure WNBA, NBA, NFL, and European opportunities. Xtreme Heat Sports services include: player development training, scholarship search assistance, summer programs and more.