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July 9, 2012 / HandsOnCorps

One Jump Shot at a Time

A family brought in a young man 12-13 years of age who was very overweight. They were signing him up for league sports. While the mother was in the office the father took him to the downstairs basketball court to meet by the league coach for his age group. After a few minutes the coach took the young man to the far end of the basketball courts gave him a basketball and begin giving him instructions.  At no time did he direct the young person to shot the ball. Instead he directed the young man to run back and forth the length of the court holding first without the basketball. The second and third time the young man was directed to first hold the ball above his head. The final time he was directed to hold the basketball chest high and run. The coach watched very closely as the young man ran. With each direction the coach demonstrated and explained the reasons for the directions and exercise.  Between each exercise the coach gave the young man time to catch his breath while explaining the next exercise. The mother joined the father at the far end of the court. Both watched as their son listen and followed the directions of the coach, a volunteer coach.

There’s an afterschool program going on at the other end of the building. Both are housed in the Adamsville Recreational Center. The afterschool program is the first stage of Atlanta’s Mayor Reed’s Center of Hope program at Adamsville. The Adamsville and Thomasville Heights Centers are the first two pilot Center of Hope pilots. Under his leadership recreation centers throughout Atlanta were reopened returning to former activities like sports leagues. Each center provides some form of after school academic support. The mayor’s plan is to make all recreational facilities Centers of Hope with each center expanding volunteers to support academic and character enrichment programming for Atlanta’s inner city youth.

Recreation centers have a rich history of volunteer recruitment and involvement without which many sports leagues would fall by the waste side. Indeed, based on my observations here at Hands of Atlanta, volunteerism is the marrow of Georgian’s life. 

Watching that volunteer coach working with one on one with the young soon to be basketball player demonstrated to me the possibilities that lay ahead in my service to bring volunteers to the after school program.  One day I hope to look in a classroom to see one volunteer, among many working one to one with one young person on spelling, or addition, or subtraction or division or reading or life. 

Gail Ortega

HandsOn Corps VISTA: HandsOn Atlanta

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