Tuesday, July 28, 2009

More Hoops in More Hoods

While B-Ball on the Block is taking Little Village by storm, Back of the Yards is also getting in on the basketball action. Over at the Neighborhood Sports Chicago web site, Cristobal Martinez has a report with photos from last Friday night's action at 48th and Marshfield. This is the first year Back of the Yards has had a full-scale Hoops in the Hood Friday night basketball league with food, fun and introductions to service agencies visiting different blocks all summer long.

Speaking as a neighborhood resident, I'm delighted to see this getting off the ground in Back of the Yards. I was out there myself last Friday night and can say firsthand that it was a lot of fun and clearly a new experience for kids and families. Many of the kids couldn't believe they could just go up and get a hot dog, an icie or a bag of popcorn for free. Neighbors not just from the target block but from a three-block radius stopped by. Some of the kids on my own block played for a team sponsored by the UNION Impact Center. Part of the point of the effort is to bridge the various divisions of the neighborhood--race, ethnicity, language, gang territories--and I'm very proud that my neighbors on the UNION Impact team were part of one of the few where a diverse group of kids were playing on the same team.

In recent years the Back of the Yards Neighborhood Council has gone through some transition in leadership and focus, and "Hoops" is helping the council raise its profile in the neighborhood in a new and positive way. Martinez's story quoted BYNC executive director Craig Chico giving a key stat to measure the impact to date: "If you want to measure our success with a number, we've served over 600 hot dogs each week."

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