Scrimmage against hate – Our kids, the Baltimore Banners ice hockey team, will be hosting the Odenton-based Metro Maple Leafs. The Maple Leafs were recently in the news when a member of their team, Divyne Apollon II, was racially taunted by opponents during a tournament. The game is at the Mimi DiPietro Ice Rink in Patterson Park, 200 South Linwood Avenue, at 11:00 AM this coming Sunday January 27. It’s their all white team with one black kid against our all black team with three white kids. Come make a stand against racism in hockey and catch a great scrimmage!
Hockey – One of the things that makes our hockey program so successful is our ratio of coaches to skaters which less than 3 players per coach. This allows our coaches to build meaningful connections with individual players not just as they pick them up from their houses, at the rink as they are getting their gear on, and at the lunches after practices, but often as the kids life issues come up during the week. Participation of our cadre of kids is problematic for a plethora of reasons which results from their home and personal issues. The kids with the most challenging situations are the guys that often can’t make practice. With that said, there are a few of kids that have made practice every week either on Saturday or Sunday, and two who have never missed a session on both days. This past week end was a testament to the success as we had 23 players on Saturday and 21 on Sunday.
Older and out – At all of our program we don’t have an upper age limit, but allow thing to progress naturally as the kids become more mature and ready to step out on their own. Basically, the kids realize when they are at a point where their responsibilities take priority. These kids will still stay involved with a particular coach or two that they have become connected with even after they have left programs. They will often call for advice, and sometimes call just to check in and report on good news. Our ultimate mission is to help these very high-risk inner-city kids become self-supporting happy adults. Nothing is more rewarding than those check-in calls.
Math – This is rarely hood kids’ strong subject, but I was none the less surprised when I got a chance to look at a homework sheet that one of the little guys that was at the house this weekend left. He had only tried 5 questions. Not only did he get each one wrong, but none of his answers reflected a misunderstanding of the process involved. Here’s a couple of examples: (12-4) + 6 = his answer 13, and 12-(4+6) = his answer 1. I don’t think this is a problem with his teacher, but with a mental dysfunction he has. He seems to have understood the process, but doesn’t grasp basic addition and subtraction. He’s another kid with a dysfunctional mom and unstable home situation falling through the cracks. He’s going to have a life-long struggle.
Paying attention – I often will have the local NPR station on the radio in the van, which most of the kids don’t pay any attention to. That is until the news started to talk about the government shut down, “Turn this up!” came from two of them. They are worried that food stamps might not be coming. Things often get a little tight toward the end of the month as moms are challenged when it comes to budgeting or planning ahead. Right now it looks like funds for food stamps is available for February. This is probably the first time the kids have actually wanted to listen to the national news. Although, the other day Peanut admitted to me that he sometimes listens to my NPR station when he is driving by himself.