Harlem Wizards En Route to Walnut Creek to Raise Funds, Laughs, Awareness
The Harlem Wizards are coming to town and they???re not afraid to lose. This April, for the second year in a row, this star-studded, talent-packed team will descend upon Northgate High School in Walnut Creek for what is not exactly your average basketball game. In fact, it’s more of a show than a game, and the Wizards more an act than a team. And yes, these guys are less concerned about winning than about making their audience bust a gut watching them do loops and alley-oops around local teachers and administrators, all in the name of raising money for both Northgate High School and John F. Kennedy University’s Solt Evans LEAP Program.
The LEAP Program aims to help underserved local youth find success in sports, school, and life, and does so in a unique way. A project of the JFK University Sport Psychology program, LEAP empowers its kids by hooking them up with the very same mental skills training and support that sport psychologists offer their athletes. The cool thing about this skill set, which includes goal setting, positive self-talk, discipline, and decision-making strategies, is that while it enhances performance on the playing field, it also transfers directly and in powerful ways to life situations off the field. While not exactly tangible assets, the emotional support, coaching, community, and structure offered by LEAP serves as a vital missing link for youth who lack access to basic services, individualized attention, and investment in their futures.
The Harlem Wizards are an excellent example of how what happens on the playing field (or court) can have an impact in the wider world. What better way to raise awareness about the LEAP Program’s work? The opportunity to put their unique approach and the populations they serve in the spotlight is what makes this a truly special evening for LEAP, which has been in play for the past 26 years. “This event is a way to raise awareness about LEAP but also to raise funds so our work can continue,” explains Project Coordinator Dan Ourian. “It’s a way for people to give back to local kids who don’t have as much.”
This year’s event will feature a different crew of Wizards from last year’s, swooping in with their very own set of shenanigans. Attendees will learn more about exciting nonprofit work happening in their community and region, have the chance to win a variety of raffle prizes, and get to watch their local principal try to dribble around star ball talent. It’s a family event, and a win-win for all involved. Of course, “winning??? at an event like this is not exactly about scoring the most points. It’s about social justice and giving back while having a zany, rollicking time???two things that seem to go hand in hand when the Harlem Wizards roll through town.
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