INDIANAPOLIS — A youth mentoring group is using a city grant to start a sports league for teenage boys. As the league looks to get going, 2023 has had a violent start with the first three homicides of the year all being teenagers.
The new league is called the Playing for Peace Youth Sports Fellowship and Community Service Project.
”It’s 42 consecutive weeks of youth and family engagement and we’re using sports as a catalyst,” said Kareem Hines, creator of the league and founder of New Breed of Youth Development, or New B.O.Y.
The league will have five sports leagues over 42 weeks, each eight weeks long. The program will start with basketball and will be followed by flag football, martial arts, an iron man competition and more.
The league comes from New B.O.Y., a group focused on mentoring boys in Indianapolis. The program recently got a $100,000 anti-violence grant from the city of Indianapolis and the Office of Public Health and Safety that is making the league possible.
On Friday morning some of the New B.O.Y. members got together to shoot hoops and talk about the new league.
”I’m excited about being on a team with a mentor program, I never been on a team with a mentor program,” said one New B.O.Y. member.
The group is comprised of mentors and mentees, and activities and meetings usually focus around sports and supporting and holding members accountable. This new league is a first of its kind for the mentoring group.
”I’m excited because when I was growing up I didn’t really have this, to be a part of something that’s in the community that’s giving children different avenues. It’s basketball, it’s martial arts, it’s so many avenues that can peak kids’ interests and keep them off the streets,” one New B.O.Y. mentor said.
The league is for kids 10 to 17 and will have three different leagues divided up by age group. Hines said they will accept any child from anywhere in the city.
”With the state of our community right now, we don’t even want to limit the number of kids,” Hines said. “However many kids come out to be a part of this we’re going to make room for them, we’re going to make space.”
The teens that come out to participate don’t have to be New B.O.Y. members, either.
“We are trying to collaborate with other programs, if your son is not involved in a mentoring program, if they are just in the community, we want them to come out and become a part of our family,” Hines said.
Each Saturday, the teams will play against each other. But, it’s much more than games. Hines said there will be a DJ, food, prizes and more – all for free.
”We’re going to have community resources at every game. We’re going to feed everybody for free at every game. There’s not an admission fee that is changed. We’re going to have a DJ at every game, we want it to feel like a block party every Saturday,” Hines said.
Hines is also planning different ways to keep teens engaged past sports. Each week there will be prizes given out.
The coaches will also monitor students’ grades to encourage them to work hard in the classroom.
”We’re going to be monitoring kids in school, so they’ll be a progress report that kids will bring with them every week,” Hines said.
Most of all, it’s designed to be a safe place for boys and their families to be. Hines said mentoring will play a heavy part in the program.
”Even though the kids will be playing basketball, we have a collaboration with other mentoring programs, other concerned men that will be at every game providing mentorship and guidance to these young men,” Hines said.
The program isn’t just for the kids, either. Hines sees this as a community event where parents are openly welcomed to be.
“A lot of moms, dads, grandmas, and aunties are struggling, trying to find the solution with what’s going on with their kids,” Hines said. “That’s what we want to be. We want to stand in the gap for those parents.”
Hines said parents need support and they’re hoping to provide that. As parents watch their kids play on Saturdays, there will also be several resources available to parents like legal advice, parenting help and even expungement services.
”We want to support because most parents are doing what they’re supposed to do with their kids, they just need a little extra support,” Hines said.
Several New B.O.Y. parents were there Friday, watching their kids play basketball.
”I just like to be a part of what he’s doing,” said Angie Yosha, a New B.O.Y. parent. “I like to make sure he’s a part of the community and has peers that he can relate to and I like being a part of the community too.”
New B.O.Y. is always looking for more moms, dads and grandparents to come out and be a part of what’s happening.
”Our kids’ lives matter, there is a lot of senseless killing going on, even recently,” said Dorothy Brady, a New B.O.Y. grandparent. “And this is a safe place, a safe program that you can come free, and with your family.”
Hines hopes parents won’t see this league as a daycare or babysitting service, but a place where parents can also be involved. He is always looking for new mentors and coaches for the league.
2023 has already seen three teenagers killed, Hines wants parents to know they can work together to help kids get on the right path.
”If you engage these young men and make them a part of our family we will bust our behinds to make sure we save them,” Hines said.
The league gets started with two player registration and skills combine days. The first is Jan. 14 at New Revelation Church at 6701 Oaklandon Rd. from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. The second is Jan. 21 at D1 The Factory at 6331 Crawfordsville Rd. from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m.
Hines said all 10-17-year-old boys, no matter the skill level, are welcome. He asks families to just give them a chance.
”Come out, just give us a shot,” Hines said. “You come, once you’ll be addicted. Not because of basketball, not because of the environment, not because of the prizes, not because of DJ and the music but because of the relationship building, because of the passion you’ll see.”
For more information, you can email email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also call 317-869-5022 or 317-975-9074.