4 college students help change the world? As I write this,
a van full of college basketball players intent on learning
about social change is traveling cross country to Montana.
They will hold two five-day basketball empowerment programs
for Crow Indian children and teenagers. They are creating
this out of thin-air, both designing and self-funding it.
Their latest video is here.
Can Four College Students Help Change the World?
Can college students help change the world? We'll they're
trying. Now as I begin this, a van full of college basketball
players intent on learning about social change is traveling
from the East Coast to Montana (They are currently in Minnesota.)
This is their story. It has something to teach us.
And they need our help.
Dean, a rising junior, has several passions in life. A
political science major and sociology minor, he's fascinated
with social justice work. Since a high school history
class, he's been concerned with the plight of American Indian
children growing up on reservations in a culture of poverty,
broken homes, unemployment, and alcoholism.
He also loves basketball. In high school, he was a point
guard and captain of his team. In his freshman year at
Guilford, he continued to play basketball earning All-Old Dominion
Athletic Conference Academic honors.
And six months ago, he had an idea...
many college students spend their time looking to be hired for
a summer internship,
David and his college friends have done something else.
They're creating theirs
from thin air.
spring, David and three colleagues—one woman, three men—have
Hoops Basketball. Their
goal is to see if they can take a small step in changing the
world. Their goal is to work with Crow Indian people,
using basketball to teach far greater life lessons.
is heartbreakingly tough for Indian children living on the Crow
of Billings, Montana. They grow up in families
that are racked by alcoholism and poverty. 90%
of the adults are unemployed. For those who attempt college,
there is a 95% attrition rate.
as Gary Smith writes "their homeland, through cheating,
broken treaties, and sellouts, has dwindled
from the 38.8 million acres guaranteed them by the U.S. government
in 1851 to the present day 1.1 million."
Through Strength -- Basketball
and his friends believe that one way to empower others is to
enter through their strengths.
And basketball is insanely popular among the Crow:
winter night, the custodian at Lodge Grass High on the Crow
reservation forgot to flick off a switch.
the team bus pulled into the parking lot after a road game nearly
four hours away, the lights above six of the 17 outdoor baskets
that surround the school were still burning.
was 2 a.m.
games of five-on-five were being played.
in the mindless way that rivers sculpt valleys and shame shapes
history, the Montana Indians' purest howl against a hundred
years of repression and pain had become
Smith, "Shadow of a Nation"
The Montana Indians' Purest Howl:
and his three
colleagues--Justin Bradley, Christina Mullen, and Keith
Belcher--love basketball as well, playing at the high school
and college level,
well on their way toward logging their requisite 10,000
hours of practice, everything from shooting solitary free
throws at dusk, to college practice, to multiple basketball
camps led by big-time coaches.
Their goal is to hold two five-day basketball Empowerment
Programs for Crow youth. The goal
is more than basketball. It is using basketball to teach
much larger life lessons:
* Inspiring young people to believe in larger possibilities
* Empowering them to pursue their limitless potential
* Providing role models, resources and knowledge to instill
this self-belief *
Teaching leadership, goal-setting, the college process, self-discipline,
perseverance through adversity, and handling peer pressure.
* Instilling a deep understanding of the power of unity
- that together everyone truly does achieve more
their Empowerment Program is the easy part.
What's challenging is raising the money to fund it. The
students won't earn a penny and don't expect to. They're
donating their own money to help cover costs while foregoing
paying summer jobs. And they are working their heads off
to bring in donations.
important has been the gift of 200 t-shirts with the Unity Hoops
imprint and 200 basketballs to give to participating kids. This
was an early and important vote of confidence from the legendary
Strong for American Indian Youth. A second came as they were
joined at the Reservation by two exceptional volunteers: Scooter
White and Steven Seland.
But feeding a large group of often undernourished teenage campers
is costly. And while to save money, the college students
piled into a van and drove cross country, the gas alone will be
$400 each way.
Consider donating -- you can donate a lot or
very little -- by going here.
They'll be grateful and will keep you posted on what happens.
They're definitely going back in 2012, so whenever you read
this, you can still help!
as I finish this issue, they are on the reservation and the
training has begun. They've been working ten hours a day
with a large group of Crow youth (10-16) who are loving it.
Conditions were much worse than they'd heard. Still the
two weeks were a magical, wonderful time. They fell in
love with the kids. Their program cause such a positive
stir in the community that it made the front page of the local
Dreams on Gas Cap Hill.)
they're back and David has just pulled together a beautiful,
short video about their time in Montana. They're already
planning to return with more volunteers in the summer of 2012.
Here's the video:
check out the Unity Hoops Basketball website here.
2006-2011. Coaching Toward Happiness. All rights reserved.