Basketball Leadership Program

In 2002, the Global Bridge Foundation started an "inner-city outer-city" basketball leadership program for young boys in Santa Monica, CA, with two specific objectives: 

1.  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

2.  To provide these boys with a learning experience in peer interactive groups with individuals from outside their familiar neighborhoods, some of who travelled several hours to participate in the program every week.

The program offered a unique opportunity for kids of varying cultural backgrounds and ethnicities to come together every Saturday in the Santa Monica College gym.  They chose teams, practiced, played, and interacted in new ways not familiar to virtually any of the participants.

At the beginning of the program, racial mistrust often caused the boys not to choose teammates that were of a different race.  The need to openly address the uncomfortable issue of racial prejudice was not unexpected. . After sharing their prejudices on and off the court in an open and respectful setting, tensions decreased and humor increased. They saw that their pre-conceived ideas about each others racial and ethnic backgrounds were almost always unfair and untrue.  Many had feelings of superiority, and through this experience, learned how similar human beings actually are: that on most levels we are all the same.  Respect and trust were built and, as a result, great teamwork on the court happened organically.

Teams were re-chosen every week to maximize interactive play and contact. After every practice and game the coaches held a Council Group to openly discuss their experiences and feelings both on and off the court.  Without question, these experiences were integrated into the psyche and lives of all participants.

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