By Dennis Kusorgbor (YES 2014-2015, Ghana, hosted by PAX in Everett, WA)
During my YES exchange year, I was hosted by the Hatleberg family in Everett, WA, and I attended Everett High School, where I was a part of the leadership club and soccer team. Volunteering in school activities and with Among the Reeds, a non-profit founded by my host family, taught me how to support the needs of others and deepened my desire to be of service to my community.
I come from Kokrobite, a coastal fishing community located about 20 km from the capital of Ghana, Accra. With its historical status as a fishing community, Kokrobite has suffered a delay in development, which has led to several social issues with adverse ripple effects. One main problem is the lack of social opportunities for youth in the community; a situation which I believe could be addressed with the introduction of youth social programs on the themes of sports, academics, and technical and vocational training.
As sports have always played a big part in my life, I decided to apply for a YES Alumni Grant to bring a sports program to the youth of my community. The Impact Basketball and Leadership Camp was held in August 2019 in partnership with the Waves Basketball Academy in Kokrobite. Through this program, 42 participants (both male and female) from underprivileged backgrounds, between the ages of ten and 20, learned how to play basketball and improve their leadership skills with the help of nine volunteer organizers.
During the first two days, the camp commenced with a seminar on the basics of basketball and workouts at Kokrobite Beach to engage in speed, agility, and conditioning drills. We also held an on-court basketball training session on the fundamentals of basketball and a skype conversion with James Abotsi (YES ’15) on the keys to success as a student athlete in a U.S. college.
The third day of camp began with a seminar on time management and personal financial planning, as well as a group discussion to review what participants had learned so far. The day ended on the court with shooting, passing, and dribbling drills. On the fourth day of camp, facilitators led participants in developing personal career plans and discussion on how these plans could be achieved, followed by a mid-morning cross-country jog through the Kokrobite community. The jog served as a means of publicizing the program and issues it sought to address. Joggers were joined by YES staff and alumni. After the jog, participants participated in a seminar on leadership as a tool for social development.
On the fifth day of camp, participants were assigned to facilitators for special one-on-one sessions to recap what was learned and focus on skills for which participants needed extra help or practice. Some participants used this opportunity to practice their basketball skills, while others used it as an academic consultation. The day continued with a basketball tournament, based age groups and skill levels, for participants to demonstrate the skills they had learned. The tournament also featured special skills contests for passing, dribbling, and scoring.
The program was successful in bringing young members of the community together and training them to become leaders and changemakers, using basketball as a tool for development.
The camp also set the stage for the Impact Basketball Outreach Program, an ongoing mentorship program which has been held since the commencement of the camp.
This program was made possible by the support of the Kokrobite community, including the parents, schools, and participants. We also owe thanks to the YES Alumni Association Ghana, association president Ahmad Adu Nasir, and fellow alumni YES ’15: Nana Ama Tenewaa Osei and Kwamena Addo Hammond. Many thanks to the staff of AFS Ghana, Waves Basketball Academy, and the Kokrobitey Institute. Finally, we give our thanks to the project’s funder, the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Thanks to all who made this project a success.