- 14 August 2013
- by Joe Russell
Did you play sports growing up? Take a moment and think about the lessons these sports taught you. Really think about it. Perhaps you only did learn how to kick the soccer ball as far as you could, but chances are you probably learned a lot of valuable life lessons without even realizing it. This idea is the backing behind Hoops 4 Hope, a non-profit organization that works with children in Africa.
Sports encourage healthy competition among peers, help a child’s self-esteem, and help a young person be really passionate about something. These are all things that children in Africa (and children everywhere!) desperately need. But Hoops 4 Hope is going one step further. They use sports as a way to bring children in and then transition into teaching these kids other life lessons after the ball stops bouncing. They gain their trust through basketball, and then start talking about some issues that really need to be talked about such as HIV/AIDS awareness, gender equality, and how to avoid a life of substance abuse or crime.
Taylor Sharp spent his summer volunteering in Zimbabwe with Hoops 4 Hope and he expressed how welcomed he felt by the communities where he worked. He was usually welcomed by hundreds of singing children who were appreciative to have an American visitor. During his time there, he would see the children he worked with become motivated for their future and the future of their country, but they weren’t the only ones benefitting from this experience. Taylor said his worldview and ideas were also impacted by his time in Africa.
Many of the children Hoops 4 Hope works with have no access to shoes, except from donations. Between the heat and the pothole-consumed courts the children would play on, you can imagine how valuable a pair of shoes is to these children. One girl had been given a pair of shoes in the past, but she decided to share the benefits with her friend. They each took one, showing Taylor how common sharing whatever you had was in this community. “I can still see them standing next to each other,” he said, “laughing and talking, each with one tattered Nike and one battered foot.” This was a memory Taylor won’t soon forget and his time in Africa has certainly had a lasting impact on the way he will live his life in the future.
To find out more about Hoops 4 Hope visit their website.