How do you get at-risk youths in crisis to open up and take some hard-won advice? If you’re Backyard Sports Cares, the answer is pizza…and a few local heroes from the Westchester Knicks!
This past week, Danny Bernstein, executive director, Backyard Sports Cares, decided to add a unique dimension to the recreational programming that the organization provides to the young men temporarily residing at the Youth Shelter Program of Westchester, an alternative to incarceration residence for 16-21 year old males, located in Mount Vernon, NY.
Backyard Sports Cares initiated and participated in a conversation with several players from the Westchester Knicks and the residents of the Youth Shelter Program. Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza in White Plains accommodated the group of enthusiastic participants, which was presided by Kiki Campbell, director of community relations for the Westchester Knicks.
“Backyard Sports and the Youth Shelter Program of Westchester have been partners for two years,” said Bernstein. “Our collaboration consists of bringing meaningful recreational programming to a group of very deserving teens and young adults. We wanted to do something impactful for these youths and the conversation with the Knicks was meant to spur a change in perspective. I believe we got everybody thinking.”
The residents heard stories of success and challenges by Knick players, Devon Baulkman, Jordan Henriques-Roberts, and Isaiah Hicks. Equally important, the young men were comfortable and at ease in exchanging their own views and back stories with the players.
“Our recreational program also puts these young men in a mentorship role working with kids in our special needs afterschool program. This experience, in combination with receiving advice and wisdom from positive role models, like the Knicks, comes together to create opportunities for postive redirection and a greater sense of purpose for these young men,” adds Bernstein.