YMEN and Wilson Sporting Goods Create a Safe Haven in North Lawndale

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YMEN
Courtesy of Semetrius Holmes

The Young Men’s Educational Network (YMEN) has served the North Lawndale area for over 20 years. YMEN’s mission is to create leaders in the community, develop their love for learning, and grow in their faith and character while using their talents to serve the community and strengthen our families.

Recently, they joined forces with Wilson to support Saved By the Ball (SBB) to change the narrative in the North Lawndale area. YMEN has served as a way of guidance with SBB. The organization typically works together as they have members involved in both programs.

Saved By the Ball was started by a YMEN alumni and employee Antoine Brewer. For five years, Brewer and his team of assistant coaches have worked, developed, and mentored girls and boys. These young men and women work with Brewer not just to enhance their athletic skills but their character development as well.

SBB and YMEN Focus on the Future With Wilson

YMEN
Courtesy of Antione Brewer

YMEN and SBB have been working together for years, having students pursuing the game of basketball and pursuing their own paths, and laying the foundation of what they want to accomplish.

The number of students that the organizations have is outstanding, not just during the summer but all year round.

Basketball has been a strong focal point in the Chicagoland area, more specifically, the North Lawndale community. For YMEN, basketball is one of the many things that can bring the neighborhood together.

Wilson Sporting Goods has been a staple in the athletic world for years. The North Lawndale community was surprised to see what was happening right underneath their noses. Wilson’s and YMEN gifted a new outdoor court to the people of the North Lawndale community, and it is open to the public now.

These events give the next generations a turn to blossom and nurture those who come after them.

A current YMEN student named Malachi Trout stated: “Basketball is a huge part of our community. I believe this collaboration will make people who weren’t interested or [were] nervous about finding their place. In order for them to begin getting the recognition that they deserve. A lot more people will start engaging with the space, and appreciate the new court while being heavily utilized. It’s all about creating safe spaces like YMEN in the community while being able to protect the youth from any dangers or distractions out there in the world.”

Creating More Safe Spaces and Protecting the Future

These plans began almost two years ago. Michael Trout, Antione Brewer, and Khalid Hannah wanted to bring another safe environment to the community. To prevent being repetitive, throughout their approach, they viewed and laid the foundation. Being able not just to help the athletes but able to carve their own plans and work with others to change the world one person at a time.

The court has a mural painted on it to show the support of the community within itself. The image serves as a visual reminder that they have something to look forward to. YMEN Alumni Jojo Brown commented on the addition of the new basketball court, “It will be interesting to see how the generations of students and athletes will come through the doors of YMEN now. They now have the necessary resources to not just only develop their craft but create everlasting friendships that start right here in the community.”

Written By Semetrius Holmes
Edited by Sheena Robertson

Sources:

Interview: Malachi Trout and JoJo Brown on July 9, 2022

Top and Featured Image Courtesy of Semetrius Holmes
Inset Courtesy of Antione Brewer – Used with permission

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