Last Sunday a special event took place at the Ben Weider Jewish Community Centre. Members of the Y Wolves basketball teams showcased 26 acts of kindness (dedicated to the shooting victims at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut) and their love of hoops.
The YM-YWHA Wolves Basketball program strives for much more than winning games and championships. “I had no idea what I was in for when I tried out and made the Wolves team," said 13 year old Ari Blanshay of the Bantam Boys team. "Our team practices twice a week, we are also expected to come to optional workouts, complete preseason conditioning and to attend study hall twice a week. Our coaches always tell us that success on the court means nothing if you‘re not succeeding in the classroom and that being a good player is not nearly as important as being a good person.”
The latter quote sums up what the Wolves program stands for. Program coordinator and coach Julia Peress explained that being a part of the Wolves program means striving for excellence both on and off the court and caring about your community enough to want to change it.
When Peress first heard about #26actsofkindness, which suggests that one random act of kindness to commemorate each of the 20 children and six adults that were killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown Connecticut, she was immediately inspired by the campaign and insisted that the program follow suit.
|The Wolves in action.|
Over the past few weeks, Wolves coaches were promoting #26acts and encouraging their players to be kind to and considerate of others. The players embraced these lessons and took them to a whole new level, surpassing all expectations. “When we first introduced the idea the players thought that every act needed to be huge; they were going to soup kitchens and retirement homes," said Peress. "They soon realized that opportunities to do good deeds are everywhere and they don’t necessarily need to be planned. Some acts thus far have included: organizing a clothing and shoe drive for Haiti, visiting and participating in a program at a senior’s residence, volunteering at MADA, helping younger siblings with their homework, saving their money and donating it to charity and several others. "
|The 26 messages.|
Last Sunday, the Wolves teams had a chance to showcase their acts and commemorate the victims in a ceremony in which they also unveiled a #26 jersey that the players will sign and send to Sandy Hook at the end of the season. “It was really something special, and to see these kids embrace kindness with such passion and motivation is truly inspirational," commented coach and former Wolves player Melissa Szilagyi.
Bantam Wolves player Tomas Caprera said it best. “I don't plan on stopping these acts of kindness because I think that we should do them every day.”
The Wolves players have surpassed their goal of completing #26acts and are committed to continue spreading kindness and good will within their communities.
|Having "a ball."|