Flint, MI—A Flint nonprofit is looking to help local youth take lessons learned on the basketball court into everyday life.

Developing Respectful Educated Aspiring Minds with Sports, or DREAMS, will be hosting a free “basketball and life skills” academy on Saturday, Oct. 2.

The skills academy is open to boys and girls from fifth through eighth grade and will be held at Hamady Middle/High School located at 3223 West Carpenter Rd. 

“I graduated from Hamady and used to coach at Hamady,” said Royce Stephens, executive director of DREAMS, which began informally in 2003 and gained nonprofit status in 2014. “It’s an opportunity to bring (DREAMS programming) home.”

Partners for DREAMS’s first skills academy include Greater Flint Health Coalition, Commit to Fit, and the John L. Group. So while basketball will make up part of the day, the focus is still on fostering resiliency in local youth.

“A lot of young people are struggling right now,” said Stephens. “Socioeconomic conditions here in Flint make them much more likely to encounter trauma, and a supportive community is an important tool in mitigating the effects of trauma.”

DREAMS, Stephens said, had gotten away from its sports programming during the COVID-19 pandemic, instead focusing on nutrition and urban gardening initiatives while social distancing was in place.

“This academy ties it all together,” said Stephens.

In addition to basketball drills, participants will also take part in sessions focusing on mental health awareness, nutrition, financial management, and how to handle interactions with law enforcement. 

“Our goal is to engage youth in a discussion about mental health, dispel myths about mental health that contribute to stigma, and provide a hands-on opportunity to promote self care and stress management,” said Afton Shavers, project manager with Greater Flint Health Coalition.

Sign in for the academy will begin at 8 a.m. with activities running from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. Pre-registration is required, and only ten out of the academy’s 60 spots remain available.

All participants will receive lunch, a Detroit Pistons basketball, a “Skills Academy” t-shirt, and a face mask.

“It is up to our community to save our community,” said Stephens. “This is an effort to pull our community together to provide a fun-filled day for our youth.”

Kate is Flint Beat's associate editor. She joined the team as a corps member of Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms to report on under-covered issues....

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