Written by Hoops 4 Hope supporter, David Lenzner
After spending eight days in Harare, Zimbabwe with the Hoops4Hope team, I found myself in a state of amazement. Each day, I woke up and went to sleep wondering how we might possibly be able to adopt and mimic the skills and programs that Hoops4Hope uses in Zimbabwe for our own public school students. As a public school teacher in the South Bronx, I have learned that the number one challenge for an educator manifests in the ability to instill a level of confidence and comfort in each and every student so that he or she may be successful inside and outside the confines of the classroom. In grad school and at professional conferences, as a community of educators we constantly discuss the importance of classroom culture. We strive to create an ambience where students feel comfortable in their own skin; we want students to take chances and confront challenges with the confidence that failure the first time will lead to success the second time. We hope to build a collective community that nurtures cultural, social, and academic curiosity; a community where your classmate or colleague stands by your side to provide support so that you may feel comfortable asking the difficult question in a class full of 32 peers that dauntingly give you their undivided attention. This can be a culture almost impossible to harvest in a classroom of 32 adolescents in the South Bronx.
Incredibly, Ngoni and the entire Hoops4Hope staff have not only created a supportive community where every child feels confident and comfortable with their own personal identity, but they have done so with clinics of over one-hundred kids. I am telling you here and now, I have never seen in the New York City public school system a program that instills so much confidence and willingness in children to participate and learn. These coaches have the undivided attention of their students. I can only imagine what they would be capable of if they had the sufficient resources to translate this success on a greater scale. Unfortunately, the economic resources simply do not exist within Zimbabwe, and these coaches, rather educators, depend on us to help their children to a brighter future. Please, continue to support Ngoni and his team so that these children can take the skills and lessons they learn daily from these invaluable after school programs and translate them into success in the classroom. Education represents a guaranteed path to opportunity. Education is the road to a better future for each individual and certainly to a greater Zimbabwe. I have no doubt that Hoops4Hope equips these children with the tools necessary to succeed in the classroom. Imagine the power one of these children might have if he or she passes through the program, becomes an all star, goes to college, and eventually is standing in front of you as your math, science, history or English teacher. The excitement and desire to arrive to class everyday and listen to a Hoops4Hope all star at the front of the classroom would be unprecedented for every single individual child. Please, pledge a donation to make this scenario an authentic reality.