In a political climate where scarcity is often assumed, and in a community that is often unfairly characterized by needs and problems, the real assets of a community can often get overlooked.
One of those incredible community assets in the Jane Finch area is the work of Benjamin Osei and the Hoop 2 Hope boys’ basketball program.
Hoop 2 Hope has two divisions; one for high school boys and the other for elementary and middle school students. The high school boys gather on Fridays from 6pm to 10pm at Westview Secondary School south gym, and the younger group meets Saturdays 6pm to 9pm at Oakdale Community Centre. These programs run from September through June.
There is plenty of basketball at each meeting, but the program’s goal is to walk with boys in their journey to becoming men. To do that, the program includes the services of many volunteers. These volunteers are older men who are further on in the journey of life and have a wealth of experience and knowledge. The idea is for men to walk with boys through the most formative years of their lives.
The boys who participate come to play ball, and they get to do a lot of that, but the leaders also take time to help them develop some skills that will help them navigate their everyday world. The leaders talk with boys about developing their character in real life situations. Boys are finding different ways to respond to difficult circumstances. They learn how wisdom, perseverance, self control, compassion, gentleness and other values can make them better persons and how that will make the world a better place.
All of this basketball and conversation culminates in an annual rite of passage celebration. The boys’ chronological development is acknowledged and celebrated at ages 13 and 18. Instead of stumbling or falling into manhood, the boys and the community around them stop, recognize, and celebrate their movement from a boy to a man.
Hoop 2 Hope knows that it is just one piece of each boy’s life. The program actively seeks to partner with families, schools and community centres. So beyond the doors of the gym, leaders like Benjamin are at work with young men as they make their way from boys to men.
Benjamin and Hoop 2 Hope are one of this community’s finest assets. They are an asset that is producing real capital, the next generation of community and world leaders.