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Courtside Reporting: On the Sidelines of the Nexus Youth Services 4th Annual Basketball Tournament

Monday, August 24, 2015

I liked that the counsellor was a cool person to talk to and that I can be open and honest with what needed to be said.
The following is a guest post by Sam Tibshirani, who is an associate in RBC’s Career Launch program for new graduates. Sam is currently on a 3-month placement with Nexus’s sister agency, Peel Children’s Centre. Below, Sam shares her experience volunteering for Nexus and supporting youth outreach and engagement during one of its most popular annual events.

On Tuesday, August 18th, 2015 I had the pleasure of volunteering at the 4th Annual Nexus Youth Services Basketball Tournament in Mississauga’s Celebration Square. Encompassing the space between the arched fountain and the infamous green space, the courts were over looked by the Nexus Youth Centre located inside the Central Library on the second floor. The Centre is tucked away and doesn’t get a lot of visual exposure, but this event drew onlookers far and wide. It was hard to miss a crowd of young people enjoying a full afternoon of hoops and grub.

Michael, a Peer Youth Worker at Nexus, was one of many youth essential to the event. He and a heap of other young people got the courts and the barbeque ready, while Ally and I took care of registration and scorekeeping. Everywhere you turned there were Nexus youth contributing to this great event, whether it was keeping runaway basketballs inbounds or getting the buns ready for the patties. The youth even created some great artwork that caught the attention of passers-by.

There was very little distinction between those who were there to work and those who were there to play. Darren Dennie, a Youth Engagement Worker, stepped onto the courts for the tournament and Kevin acted as a referee. The head chef, Garth, who when he isn’t cooking 200 burgers is actually a Concurrent Disorders counsellor, was dedicated to his post for the entire afternoon. We had some fabulous volunteer MCs who added a steady stream of colour commentary to the three events of the day: a 3-point shootout, a dunk contest, and a 4-on-4 round robin basketball tournament. They made connections with many of the Nexus youth, and even volunteered to join us at our next Nexus fundraiser, Hope Floats (I’m holding you to that, Kevin!).

The day would not have sparked such a transformation without the participation of the Peel Regional Police, who sent 4 officers to the tournament. Not only did they compete in the 3-point contest and team round robin, they also judged the dunk contest. Despite being good competition in the 3-point shootout and having a significant height advantage over the youngsters, the victory went to a 14-year-old sharp shooter. Once they were eliminated, the officers became the ball-feeders and made perfect passes to youth still in the competition.

Everyone could see that the officers were there to interact with the youth; each of them supported a basketball team, and during the games they could be seen making passes to their younger teammates or cheering them on from the bench. They were truly there to assist and have fun, and in doing so they reminded the youth of their real intention when they’re out patrolling the streets: to assist anyone in need and to mediate between individuals. I am confident that any youth who attended the tournament will be more comfortable reaching out for help from an officer having since forged a friendly relationship through sportsmanship.

The event, by all accounts, was a success. The only team without a Peel Regional Police player won the tournament and the winners of each event received great prizes for their victory. Over 75 participants and onlookers took part in the afternoon and, against all odds, not a single drop of rain fell on an otherwise gloomy day. The universe must have known that there was fun to be had!

Nexus Youth Services extends its thanks to the City of Mississauga, Maple Lodge Farms, and Peel Regional Police for making this event possible. Nexus also thanks the fabulous staff and youth volunteers for their time, hard work and infectious enthusiasm. To all of you who brought your talent onto the courts, we hoped you enjoyed yourselves and we look forward to seeing you next year!

To see more photos from this event, check us out on Facebook. To learn more about volunteering with Nexus, click here.

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