Shooting Touch Strives to Build ‘Basketball Peace Corps’
Program creates social change through hoops.
by Jonathan Evans
Basketball is a powerful tool for growth. Tales of personal, athletic and financial growth are well known, but in some ways, they’re just the beginning. This beautiful game has also the power to effect positive social change in disadvantaged communities. That is the mission of the Shooting Touch Program. The non-profit organization strives to positively impact the lives of children both on and off the court with educational and mentorship opportunities.
Shooting Touch recently had its Second Annual Gala Celebration to benefit its Sabbatical Program. The program grants graduating college seniors the opportunity to promote positive growth in needy contexts the world over. This initiative highlights the expanding reach of the Shooting Touch Program. Founded in Boston four years ago, the program now has global aspirations to create “The Basketball Peace Corps.”
ESPN’s Fran Fraschilla MC’d the event for hundreds at the Reebok World Headquarters. Notable attendees included Hall of Famer Wayne Embry, legendary high school coach Bob Hurley Sr., Bobby Hurley, Jr., Raptors coach Jay Triano, Celtics owner Steve Pagliuca, as well as several stakeholders from Reebok. The headliners and everyone else in attendance were united by a love of basketball and an interest in seeing how it can be used as a vehicle for beneficial social change.
Tome Barros, the program’s first sabbatical grantee took the stage and illustrated just what change through basketball looks like. The Dorchester native told stories of his experiences in Senegal, Brazil and Cape Verde. His video presentation on his travels showed how basketball can educate, inspire and galvanize a community. Seeing the smiles of kids learning how to play reminded everyone why they love the game and just what it’s capable of doing. Ultimately through his work, basketball serves as a vehicle to leave a lasting impact that will extend beyond the court in these communities.
He then passed the torch to Leah Westbrooks, the next Shooting Touch grant winner. The forward from Mount St. Mary’s University will follow in Tome’s footsteps and travel to South Africa and Zimbabwe.
In total the gala raised tens of thousands of dollars for Shooting Touch. The night was such a success that the program will be able to send two grantees overseas in next year’s Sabbatical Program. This growth will increase the global reach of the program and open more doors to the power of the game.