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Laura McElroy, MK Communications

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Hoops in the Hood Basketball Tourney Demonstrates Successful Communities’ Safe Summer Alternatives

Tournament caps off summer-long activities that keep youth safe,

build community

 

What: Hoops in the Hood 6th Annual Basketball Tournament

When: Saturday, August 18; 11:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m.

Where: Seward Park, 375 W. Elm St., Chicago

CHICAGO (August 18, 2012)— It’s not all bad news in the ‘hood.

While youth violence has captured the headlines this spring and summer, several communities this week will celebrate a lack of it – in part thanks to the summer-long programs of sports, arts and education they’ve forged.

On Saturday, August 18th, a broad city league celebrated its success at the 6th annual Hoops in the Hood Cross-City Tournament, in which youth from 12 communities compete in a city-wide contest. Begun nearly a decade ago in Pilsen as an anti-violence strategy, Hoops in the Hood (supported by LISC Chicago) has grown to a city-wide collaboration of 12 neighborhoods, serving hundreds of youth each year. Under program names like B-Ball on the Block, Hoops, and the Safe Summer Basketball League, each week during the summer residents shut down streets, set up portable hoops and invite neighbors to come out and cheer on the young players. Weekly street ball is also blended with community art projects and health awareness education.

This year, Peace Players International will also be on site to facilitate skills and teambuilding workshops with the youth.

In the face of growing calls from across the city for neighbors to take responsibility for their own safety, these Chicago communities are doing just that through Hoops in the Hood. 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.

“Next to a block party, this is the most fundamental neighborhood engagement you can get,” said Jaime deLeon of Enlace Chicago, who’s been involved with Hoops in the Hood since 2006. "You can feel the tremendous sense of community. It's a beautiful feeling to see kids playing basketball on their own streets without any fear or worry. For at least a few hours, families own that block, and our hope is that the sense of ownership continues to build, so that everyone can take responsibility for keeping our community safe.”

Participating organizations in the tournament are Back of the Yards Neighborhood Council, www.bync.org; Breakthrough Urban Ministries, www.breakthrough.org (East Garfield Park); BUILD, www.buildchicago.org (Humboldt Park); Chicago Men in Action, www.connectnearnorth.org (Near North); The Community Builders, www.tcbinc.org (Quad Communities); Enlace Chicago www.enlacechicago.org and Beyond the Ball, www.beyondtheball.org (Little Village); Lawndale Christian Development Corp., www.lcdc.net (North Lawndale); the Near West Side Community Development Corp., www.nearwestsidecdc.org (West Haven); Neighborhood House and Claretian Associates, www.claretianassociates.org (South Chicago); North River Commission, www.northrivercommission.org (Albany Park); The Resurrection Project, www.resurrectionproject.org (Pilsen); and, Teamwork Englewood (www.teamworkenglewood.org).

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