At basketball camp, kids also drill nutrition and financial literacy skills
on August 9, 2011
Known for its long history of fostering basketball stars, including legendary National Basketball Association guards like Gary Payton (now retired from playing for the Miami Heat) and Jason Kidd of the Dallas Mavericks, the East Oakland Youth Development Center’s latest basketball camp has attracted more than 100 students. The three-day camp, which lasts from Monday to Wednesday, is designed to give players between the ages of 10 and 14 not only athletic training, but also education on nutrition and financial literacy.
“Basketball is almost like the bait to bring everybody in,” said Adonal Foyle, the camp’s lead coach, who played center for Oakland’s Golden State Warriors from 1997 to 2007. Through a nonprofit he founded in 2003 called the Kerosene Lamp Foundation, Foyle and his friends in the NBA have taught free basketball lessons for thousands of students in Central America and the United States. “Sports is an excellent method of reaching out to the kids,” Foyle said, adding that the teamwork, discipline and perseverance students will learn on the court are essential skills for their future growth. “It’s an opportunity to empower themselves beyond basketball,” he said.
Regina Jackson, the youth development center’s director, said the camp is the first of its kind in Oakland. “It takes into account of almost all the EOYDC’s regular programs—it’s not just about sports,” she said.
According to Foyle, the participants are all selected from inner city neighborhoods where children have the least opportunity to attend after-school programs. Although most of the camp participants are boys, a few girls also joined the training. During the camp, students will be divided into five different age groups; while two groups are in the basketball court learning passing and rebounding skills, the others will be in different rooms studying computers, art, nutrition and financial management. In addition to coaching basketball, Foyle will also teach a session on leadership development on Tuesday.
The first training session on Monday began with warm-up exercises, after which the kids, all in green T-shirt, were divided into groups to practice different skills, such as lay-ups, passing and rebounding. The coaches were patient but strict; anyone who failed to follow the instructions had to do ten push-ups. “If they don’t want to do the work necessary to be great, I’ll ask them to leave,” Foyle said. “I like messing up with them a bit.”
In addition to the Kerosene Lamp Foundation, a number of other organizations also contribute to the camp, including the East Bay Community Foundation, Kaiser Permanente, and K to College, an Oakland-based nonprofit that provides low-income students with school supplies. At the beginning of the camp, each student was given a bag filled with notebooks and colored pencils. More books, healthy lifestyle guides and even fresh produce will be distributed to the participants during the camp session so they can reflect what they have learned about nutrition when they return home.
Jackson said that in addition to knowing how to eat healthy, it’s especially important for the young students to know how to manage their own money and to establish a good credit history, which will affect their students loans when they go to college. “The idea is to make them accountable [for their financial choices],” Jackson said. She hopes the students can go back home and teach their parents to do the same. “I find it all too often that when debt collectors call the house, the parent will tell the child to tell them they’re not home,” Jackson said. “If that’s a lesson the child is learning, we have to counteract that.”
In addition to the basketball camp, the East Oakland Youth Development Center offers 60 different classes and host more than 300 students a day. Visit their website for more information.
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