Slam dunk: Basketball for inner-city kids
WHAT: The Summer Weekend Inner-City Supervised Hoops (SWISH) program.
HOW IT STARTED: The program was inspired by a summer stroll past a sparsely filled parking lot on the Bannatyne campus. Dennis Bayomi, a U of M staff member in community health sciences and a volunteer with a community youth basketball team, saw the space’s potential as another venue for the neighbourhood’s youth to gather and share in their love of the sport. He told his idea to other staff members and it gained momentum. By June 2012, Parking Lot E was transformed into an outdoor basketball court. Bison athletes were hired as staff, volunteers came forward, and several community partners lent their support.
THE GOAL: To connect with young people at the Bannatyne campus while offering them a safe and fun place to participate in recreational activity.
THE REACH: Since its inception in 2012, SWISH has hosted more than 200 youth in Saturday pick-up basketball.
IN HER OWN WORDS: “The inspiration comes from the kids who are waiting each Saturday morning on their bikes, watching SWISH staff arrive, putting together basketball hoops and hauling equipment to the site,” says Karen Cook, a member of SWISH’s planning committee and project manager with the U of M’s department of community health sciences. “Sometimes at the end of the day, one or two kids will linger in the parking lot as staff dismantle and transport equipment back to adjacent buildings, moving the conversation from basketball and often asking, ‘What do you learn in these buildings?’ It is the development of real and positive relationships that is most rewarding.”
FUNDERS AND SUPPORTERS: The University of Manitoba Colleges of Medicine, Pharmacy and Dentistry; and Basketball Manitoba. In-kind support is provided by the City of Winnipeg, Youth Agencies Alliance, University of Manitoba Faculty of Kinesiology and Recreation, Bannatyne Parking Services, Physical Plant and Joe Doupe Recreation Centre.