FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Keri Blackwell (LISC)
HOOPS FINALS BRING NEIGHBORHOODS TOGETHER
Basketball teams from 13 communities square off in 7th annual competition
August 17, 2013 (CHICAGO)—Young people from Albany Park to South Chicago came together in Seward Park on Saturday, August 17 10:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m., for the 7th annual Hoops in the Hood Cross-City Tournament. The event culminates a summer of basketball competition in which youth in 13 communities played weekly games on neighborhood streets that were closed to traffic, or in local gyms that were made available for the games.
Hoops, a program of LISC Chicago, originated a decade ago in Pilsen as an anti-violence strategy, where neighborhood leaders blocked off intersections near gang hotspots and equipped them with portable basketball hoops, art displays, grilled food and other amenities. Since then, 12 other neighborhoods have gotten in on the act, enlisting youngsters in organized, adult-supervised athletic competition.
Names of the individual neighborhood programs vary, from B-Ball on the Block, Hoops, and the Safe Summer Basketball League, but the purpose is the same: to engage kids in healthy, constructive, supervised athletic activity, and to get neighborhood residents to come out and watch them.
By occupying blocks, kids and residents leave less physical space for gangs in their neighborhoods. With a shared, city-wide slogan of “Playing for Peace, Unity & Respect,” and a zero-tolerance policy for arguing and fighting on the court, the leagues have enjoyed summer after summer of incident-free ball.
“If we could do this year ‘round, we would,” said Keri Blackwell, LISC Chicago’s deputy director. “The level of neighborhood engagement – and the number of communities participating – builds every year. You wouldn’t think a few summer basketball games would amount to a community-building experience, but that’s what’s happening. And the finals at Seward Park are like an exclamation point to a successful summer.”
Organizations participating in the tournament are the North River Commission (Albany Park), Back of the Yards Neighborhood Council; Teamwork Englewood; BUILD (Humboldt Park and Austin), Enlace Chicago (Little Village); Chicago Men in Action (Near North); the Lawndale Christian Development Corp. (North Lawndale); the Resurrection Project (Pilsen); Claretian Associates (South Chicago); Near West Side CDC (West Haven); Breakthrough Urban Ministries (East Garfield Park); and The Community Builders (Quad Communities).
Sponsors of the Cross-City Tournament are State Farm and Gatorade.
About LISC Chicago
Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) Chicago connects neighborhoods to the resources they need to become stronger and healthier. Since its founding in 1980, LISC Chicago has organized $232 million to invest in comprehensive development programs throughout the city. This investment has built the capacity of dozens of community-based organizations, helped create 30,000 units of affordable housing and 5.5 million square feet of neighborhood commercial space, and led to a variety of social and economic development programs serving less-advantaged people and communities across Chicago.