CAMBRIDGE — On the front of the Dorchester YMCA’s Middle School Travel Basketball Team jerseys it reads, “Championing the cause for community, character and change.” Over the four months of the program, now in it’s second year, the 15 boys on the team showed change not only in their skills on the court but within their character as well.
Coached by Pastor Abraham Lankford, his focus wasn’t only to give these young men the skills they needed to be better on the court but to give them skills to be better in everything they do. The players were required to maintain passing grades, as well as, represent the YMCA’s values of respect, responsibility and caring during games and practices.
“Basketball was just the delivery method of our real purpose, mentoring” says Youth Development Director, Ashlie Elliott. “Through the basketball program, we are able to show these kids that people care and that they can succeed.”
And succeed they did, not only did some players’ grades improve, but the Champions ended their season with a 12-2 record. Most games were hosted at the Dorchester YMCA where the stands were full for every game. Family and friends packed the stands cheering the players on and driving home the YMCA’s misson: to work side-by-side with our neighbors to address critical community needs that help kids develop into smart, resilient adults, for people to improve their health and build a sense of community and for our most vulnerable young people to get the care and support they need.
The Y is one of the nation’s leading nonprofits and the largest Human Service organization on the Eastern Shore of Maryland; strengthening communities through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. In 2016, the YMCA of the Chesapeake provided over $1,226,000 in assistance to over 12,422 community members, turning no one away due to inability to pay. www.ymcachesapeake.org