The Impact of the B-Ball on Young People in Our Community

In our communities, it is very easy to feel marginalized and undervalued in systemic spaces. When certain experiences and emotions are hard to discuss, young people have few choices. Sometimes these decisions can have a major impact on life as a whole.

Many may have heard the quote “Ball is Life” and laugh without truly understanding the love that is attached to it and why…

Here at the Club, there is not a day that goes by that a basketball doesn’t SWOSH the net as it hits our new NBA backboards. Looking deeper into the passion, at any age, one can admire the dedication that comes with something that relieves stress, a place where you can make friends who turn into family, and learn a new skill. We host Jr. NBA programs on the weekends, and Ball Runs for the young adults and teens in the week. The space is always filled and utilized well.


Kareem Milson, one of three Youth Outreach Workers at the Club, who is mostly known as Coach, started playing basketball when he was 6 years old. With his dedication to the sport, he ended up landing himself a full scholarship to college in the United States. Coach used basketball as a tool to land him free education but it also kept him out of trouble – but he never thought of it as a tool to become a mentor, to use it to have a positive impact on our young people, and teach it as a coping mechanism to life.

Coach acts as a mentor to many of the young men and women that come into the Club. Specifically through basketball, they are able to bond, connect and shed light on life. Although we cannot be there to protect our youth at all times, we do our best to broaden their understanding and decision making when it comes to life in general. Being at Ball Runs gives the young people, and the individuals who work on the frontline with our young people, a forum to discuss different forms of stress they may be facing and how to make smart, healthy, and critical decisions. The space is a direct tackle on supporting mental health, to help avoid things like depression, anxiety, and many other mental illnesses we may not even realize we are battling.

“When young men have so much energy, a lot of people do not know how to deal with that or themselves. Basketball is an avenue to blow off steam.” – said Coach.

Basketball, and any sport for that matter allows young people to have something to look forward to. The ability to grow in the many streams of life are a key aspect to a balanced and healthy lifestyle. Being not only a space to relax your mind, it also supports your physical wellbeing. Sometimes you are unable to express how you feel and do not know who to turn to; our gym is that go to. A space to truly unwind.


Coach shared that many teachers said he would end up in jail throughout his younger years.

“Sports kept me out of situations that could have derailed me.” He shares.

When he remembers what impacted his motivation, he uses it as a way to avoid having a negative impact on the young people he works with. He says he acts as a mentor as opposed to the stigmatized perception some of his teachers had of him. He doesn’t yell, and he listens to understand. He said “A lot of young people are going to ask why, I always want to have an answer, so they act with purpose and become better people.”

Basketball is more than just the game. It is attached to the lives and identities of many of our young people who walk in and out of our building on a daily basis. Having a mentor who can help guide and coach all the values behind the sport offers a foundational aspect within our community.