The Global Bridge Foundation provided an “inner-city outer-city” basketball leadership program for young boys in Santa Monica, CA, with several specific objectives:
• To recruit inner city minority boys from group foster homes to participate in the enjoyment of the sport and to learn the fundamentals of basketball
• To provide these boys with a learning experience in peer interactive groups with boys from outside their familiar neighborhoods (some of whom had to take several buses and several hours to join the program every week).
The program offered a unique opportunity for kids of very different backgrounds and ethnicities
Every Saturday, in the Santa Monica College gym, they would come together to choose teams, practice, play, and interact in ways not familiar to many of the boys. In the beginning the foster home kids would not choose a white kid to play on their team due to lack of trust in the abilities of the white kids and racial tension; several white kids did the same, making it became obvious we needed to address openly this mutual discomfort and prejudice. After sharing our prejudices on and off the court, tensions decreased and humor increased as kids saw that their pre-conceived ideas about whites and blacks playing together, and about the skill levels of the boys, were wrong. Most of the boys began to pass the ball to each other and to trust each other’s efforts.
After every practice and game (teams were re-chosen every week to maximize interactive play and contact), the coaches held a Council Group to openly discuss the experience and the feelings that shaped their game on and off the court.