B-Ball on the Block with the Kinship Initiative
Contributed by Tameeka Christian
On Thursday evenings during the summer, a designated street in the North Lawndale neighborhood gets blocked off for children to enjoy an outdoor basketball tournament called B-Ball on the Block. Saint Anthony Hospital and the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) sponsored this year’s event in cooperation with the North Lawndale Kinship Initiative of Old St. Pat’s Church. Other community organizations that serve the North Lawndale neighborhood also pitched in, including State Farm, Chicago Youth Centers, Lawndale Amachi Mentoring Program (LAMP), I AM Able, UCAN, MADD Men and the 10th District of the Chicago Police Department. These groups and many individuals contributed funds and assured that the games ran smoothly, that the youth were safe and that all who attended had a great time. Suffice to say, B-Ball on the Block was a success despite two of the Thursdays getting totally rained out.
The tournament is primarily for youth ages 8 to 19, but there were also activities for younger children. The 7 and under crowd enjoyed a bouncy house, face painting, dancing to the DJ’s music, arts and crafts and playing games. Tasty refreshments and cool drinks were available as well for the entire multi-generational crowd that came from inside and outside of the neighborhood to enjoy the action.
To assure the youth are supported across all ages, a separate tournament was held for youth ages 15 to 19 years old. Coach Andre Bryant, a retired professional basketball player who lives in North Lawndale and has a passion for those lacking opportunity and most vulnerable to violence, coordinated additional games. Monday and Tuesday evenings were reserved for older teens and young adults to play in the tournament via local and city-wide local competitions. Winners then advanced to a cross city tournament at Quest Sports Center in late August. For many of the competitors, this annual tournament was the highlight of their summer since opportunities are so lacking in many of their neighborhoods.
North Lawndale appreciates the North Lawndale Kinship Initiative and the people of Old St. Pat’s who supported B-Ball on the Block. The time and resources you invested meant so much to the young participants, their families, friends and coaches and the event organizers. We are especially grateful to Jim Power, Kate Ronan, Michelle Bella, RJ McMahon, Bill Cowhey, Kathy Powers, Lauren Kezon, Kim, John and Justin Enoch and Vince Guider for organizing the Old St. Pat’s volunteers, spreading the word, gathering resources and helping assure the event was a success.
If one wants to know how we begin to prevent violence and build kinship between diverse urban communities, one needs to only look at Old St. Pat’s, the Kinship Initiative, North Lawndale and B-Ball on the Block 2016. The many ways Old St. Pat’s Church engages with the North Lawndale community are making a huge difference on Chicago’s West Side and we thank you ever so much!
Tameeka Christian is a staff member of St. Anthony Hospital, the 2016 Coordinator for B-Ball on the Block and a North Lawndale neighborhood resident. If you’re interested in becoming involved in the Kinship Initiative at Old St. Pat’s, contact Vincent Guider at VincentG@oldstpats.org.