"They are sponges for knowledge....Kids need to know they have support to triumph."
Grateful for the guidance and support he received as a child and teen, Jason Alexander, 33, of Fort Lauderdale, FL, uses his talents in basketball to mentor low-income children and youth.
What kind of philanthropic or volunteer work did/do you do?
Jason: I run a non-profit organization called Basketball Science. During the summer, I run a weekly basketball-education-business-strength & conditioning program. I allocated 50 free scholarships to the Boys & Girls Club, Salvation Army, and YMCA. The kids range from ages 6-17 years old. I provide breakfast and lunch for kids. We have professionals who volunteer their time to teach each part of the program.
What is the name and location of the organization?
Jason: Basketball Science, Fort Lauderdale, FL.
Tell us about the project, especially who benefited from this work.
Jason: Kids ages 6-17 benefit from this work. It is a positive and educational environment that they can go to during summer months. Parents benefit from this program as well because kids are challenged in athletics, academics, and business. As a result, summer vacations has become a time of positive growth for kids. We also work with Keystone, a leadership group based out of the Boys & Girls Club. They volunteer as well to see that kids are supervised and monitored accordingly.
What inspired you to get involved?
Jason: As a young child, I loved basketball. I had several people take personal time out of their lives to coach me, teach me, and instruct me. Overall I was mentored by several successful people. I owe my personal development during these formative years to those people. As a result, I understand the importance of giving back to our youth. They are the future.
How did you first get involved? Give us some details.
Jason: I began working at the YMCA. I then was hired by the Boys & Girls Club. From there I incorporated Basketball Science. The premise is to provide kids with high quality training programs in the field of basketball, academics, physical fitness, and business (free enterprise). Generally, kids who are well-off financially or rated high in their respective sports get access to programs like this. My goal was to take a high-end service and make it available to kids in low-income households.
What is/was the best thing about your experience?
Jason: The best thing is that I am a product of these programs, this type of philanthropy. I benefited from these types of seminars, coaching, instruction, and mentorship. As a result I can lead the next generation to new heights and plateaus. There are new problems on our frontier, such as obesity and low standardized test scores, in which basketball science can and will make a difference. I am a kid that used these types of programs as a means to an end. I earned a college scholarship, job, and tons of knowledge from my experience.
What is/was the hardest part?
Jason: Peer pressure! At some point in time a kid must decide what and who is important to him or her. I had to let many people go because of my dedication to my career and overall success. Also, a good and reliable support group is needed for each child. These programs are challenging, and kids need to know they have support to triumph.
What was the biggest surprise?
Jason: My biggest surprise is that more of these programs donít exist. Also, many successful people have lost touch with the base of their communities and have not put any money into the re-development of their communities. Gyms, programs, and visibility are not there like they should be. Kids still rely on the YMCA, Boys & Girls Clubs, parks and recreation [programs], and so on to develop youth. We need more specialized programs that meet the new challenges of our time.
What new things have you learned as a result of your experience and how have you changed as a result?
Jason: I have learned the delicacy of working with children. They are sponges for knowledge. Based on that, they need to be around the correct images, environments, and people. Youth copy what they see adults do. Therefore, it is that much more important that we as adults put ourselves in the proper settings because children are always watching and mimicking us. Be a role model all the time!
What advice would you give to someone who is thinking of getting involved in philanthropy or volunteering?
Jason: Have patience! If you are an impatient person, then you are in the wrong capacity.
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