Changing Life Through Play, Hi5 Youth Foundation, Mumbai
Updated: Aug 6, 2019
Established in 2015, Hi5 Youth Foundation is a non-profit and professionally-managed organization in Mumbai. It aims at revolutionize basketball at the grassroots level and provides underprivileged children with an equal opportunity to excel at the sport.
Building Hope Through Shooting Hoops
‘All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy’: We have all heard this proverb throughout our lives. However, few understand the importance of these words. Playing is an integral part of our childhood, and indulging in specific sports is even better. Research has shown that children who play sports are healthier and tend to have better concentration; thus, they excel at their studies.
Unlike private schools, municipal or tribal schools across India may not have the required facilities to play sports, although the children are keen to learn and play. These students come from economically poor families that can barely afford to school their children, let alone provide them with sports equipment.
In India, sports such as Cricket, Kabaddi, Football, Tennis and Badminton are more popular and are played and watched. However, basketball is not as popular, although it is an interesting sport; it takes less space and is high in energy, with ten players, one ball and 2 baskets. It contributes to physical wellness, mental health and social collaboration, with potential to encourage the idea of working together toward a common goal that raises everybody’s morale.
A Cause for Hi5
Hi5 believes that “sports is not a medium but a platform for children to develop and excel in life skills”. It would help children to better their performance and build strong aspirations to do well in the future. With their motto ‘Hope Thru Hoops’, Hi5 has built a 4-year program for children to hone their basketball skills and in turn improve on a lot of life-skills, improve focus, aspirations and most importantly, self-confidence to champion through life with a high-five.
Hi5 selects underprivileged children aged 9-18 years from various schools and centers irrespective of their background, gender or language based on simple metrics such as their running speed, which is essential to cultivate basketball skills. Their flagship program, ‘Hope Thru Hoops’ has four levels (Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced and Elite) spread over 4 years.
Currently, there are over 2100 children receiving coaching from 20 basketball centers that include 10 BMC schools, 2 Area Programs and 5 Residential Schools (including a Tribal Residential schools) 1 college and 2 Zilla Parishad Schools in Mumbai, Telangana & Kolkata. Each of the centers has a dedicated full-time coach who follows a specifically designed curriculum developed by Hi5 to train students from the Beginner level to the Elite level, with a team of over 35 coaches and coordinators , Hi5 conducts about 24 sessions of 1-1.5 hours each for all the levels.
Furthermore, Hi5 provides every enrolled student a Hi5 jersey, shorts and shoes that they leave in the premises and take the socks and jerseys back home to wash-up for the next session. In addition, the students are provided with healthy snacks after the sessions along with life lessons. Also they lay down a condition that children can continue training provided they clear their school exams, which further motivates to focus on their studies as well.
To maintain quality and consistency among centers, Hi5 conducts regular tests and tournaments to examine the performance of students, coaches and the centre overall. Every month, all the coaches and coordinators from all centers meet to review, discuss, share ideas and experiences and present their performances to improve and share learning with each other. Hi5 has a point-based system to measure a student’s progress, encouraging students with the student of the month, punctuality and behavior awards.
Building a strong value system for children is the core Hi5 mission, with all-round development of children, providing them with freedom to plough toward their common goal. Hi5 imparts children with the following values and life skills through basketball such as team building, self-belief, drive to excel, mutual respect, hygiene and cleanliness.
Our visit to Hi5 was an exciting one. We visited the Deonar BMC School and a tribal residential school centre. At the Deonar BMC School, We were escorted to the court which was at the centre of the school. We observed that Children dressed in their bright green jerseys and shoes provided by Hi5, gave their hearts and souls during practice in the bright afternoon sun, and all we could do was admire their dedication and prowess while standing in the shade.
The practice was being conducted in batches, and eventually the girls and boys played a match against each other. It was exhilarating to see these young players score a basket in nearly every round. Their confidence and pride as a team was apparent and the vibes we received as bystanders was absolute joy and positivity.
The coach was training the children with great encouragement. Children with their Hi5 jerseys were shining bright they had a sense of pride of being recognized as the Hi5 kids all over school. Other students watch from their classrooms as the Hi5 kids train and play; they all aspire to be a part of Hi5.
We also visited another facility at Baba Gadge Ashram in Vajreshwari, which is a residential tribal school that teaches and houses children from tribal families. The students attend school and then play basketball on a proper professional basketball court lit with floodlights built specially for them by Hi5.
The living area houses 50 children per room, sleeping on mats and taking bath with cold water even during winter. They live in under most simple and basic conditions, making the most of what they have leaving all their struggles aside. All that we could see was confidence, a sense of belonging, enthusiasm and sheer respect for the game. And on your way out, all the kids jump to give double high-fives to each other and chant that they love basketball.
Watching the children play with such motivation and enthusiasm, we realized that there are so many children who would want to be a part of this. Children need such opportunities as they realize the value of it and use it to the fullest. This is India’s bright future and we wish that soon the Hi5 kids represent India at an international level.
We urge you to visit Hi5 and observe the children at play. You will be overwhelmed with hope and deep positivity Hi5 is channelizing their energy towards a constructive goal and making underprivileged children realize that their way of life is in no way inferior to other members of the society. Certainly this cause is worth Supporting!