Basketball: The Bait on the Hook

By Henry Street Settlement

Q: When is basketball more than a game?

A: When it’s a gateway to better grades, responsibility and hard work.

That “gateway” is open every day at Henry Street Settlement’s Boys & Girls Republic (BGR), which lures youth in the door with basketball, but teaches much more than jump shots.

Located in public housing on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, the community center is an oasis in a neighborhood characterized by poverty, a high school graduation rate of just 59 percent, and bad choice temptations.

Many of the youth in the neighborhood rely on BGR for a sense of community. BGR has taught Norqui. Munoz, 16, “not to give up even if it’s over. BGR means the world to me; without it I would be half empty and lost.” For 15-year-year old Aeneas Green, the most valuable lesson he’s learned in the five years he’s participated in BGR is team building and composure in tough situations.

Emarquis Jones, 12, loves basketball because “it gives me a different way to learn about the fundamentals” while noting that at BGR he’s learned “to respect and watch your profanity.” In the four years that Ceaquan Manso, 17, has been playing ball at BGR, he said, “I learned how to be more responsible off and on the court – and even outside. BGR means a lot to me – this place keeps me in a safe environment.”

Even though he joined recently, BGR has become like family to Angel Polanco, 16. He likes the competition and the number of games he’s able to play. “Teammates can turn into family. Hard work always beats talent.”

One of the female basketball players appreciates the opportunity provided by BGR. Victoria Udechi, 16, said, “Whether you’re a boy or a girl, at BGR, if you work hard on the basketball court, you can be great.”

These young players will be taking the court at our upcoming Dunk & Donate fundraiser on January 21, 2017. More information about this event can be found here.

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