Founded by coach Tony Moore, Hoops 4 Life works with disadvantaged young people to develop life skills such as leadership, confidence and teambuilding. They recently became a Duke of Ed Award Centre so they could formally recognise and reward the young people undertaking their life-changing program.
Hoops 4 Life started in 2005, as a way to get young people active and engaged by playing basketball. 12 years later, Hoops 4 Life has grown substantially, with over 2,000 young people having been involved in the program. Hoops 4 Life targets what founder Tony Moore describes as ‘Kids at risk’ which includes youth with mental and physical disabilities, behavioural issues, refugees, young offenders or those that are otherwise disadvantaged.
Recently, Hoops 4 Life became a licensed Duke of Ed Award Centre, a relatively simple process as their program already incorporated the Skills, Physical Recreation and Volunteering components, so they only needed to add the Adventurous Journey component. A large part of the Hoops 4 Life program is based on developing life skills, specifically leadership skills.Tony explains, “We give them all of the fundamental skills to be a leader, and we keep rotating the leadership roles in different environments in basketball”. The volunteering component comes with a few different options for participants to complete. “We create care packages for a number of families who are disadvantaged and disengaged. We also have a homework program which a lot of the older kids can mentor and coach a young person in increasing their academic skills”.
On top of that, all of the Hoops 4 life umpires are volunteers, and finally, the physical recreation component is of course basketball.
Hoops 4 Life are currently piloting the Award program with two groups of young offenders – a group of women aged 18-24 from Adelaide Women’s Prison, and a group from the Adelaide Youth Training Centre, which is a juvenile detention facility. Hoops 4 Life works with young offenders while they are contained as well as when they have finished their sentence. Tony explains, “Making contact within the first 48 hours of their release is crucial for turning their lives around, by introducing them to a new community in an effort to stop them from reoffending.”
Tony believes that incorporating the Award program into Hoops 4 Life will value add to the program, as the young offenders can now be formally recognised and awarded for their achievements in the form of the Bronze, Silver and Gold Awards. “We have been advocating the program to schools and the Department of Education for quite some time, and even though schools vouch that there’s a huge improvement in the young people who were attending Hoops 4 Life, there was nothing substantiating that”. Tony goes on to explain that running the Award provides the answer to that problem; “The Duke of Ed was the answer to all of the extra things that we wanted to achieve for our young people…it was just value adding to everything that we were already doing. It streamlined some of our process and reporting so that it shows the level of commitment some people are giving other than just our word”.
Tony can already see that introducing the Award program into Hoops 4 Life is having a positive impact particularly with young offenders “a couple of young men who are in custody for two years are really excited to be doing their Gold Award”.
More information about HOOPS 4 LIFE is available at http://www.hoops4life.com.au/