Bring Back Our Basketball Nets: Toronto District School Board

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This basketball court behind me, specifically one net beside my childhood home shaped who I am today.

For over two decades, a basketball net behind Earl Grey Sr. Public School was a staple in the community that I grew up, by Toronto's east-end at Pape & Danforth. 

It no longer remains.

What was once a constant place for the community to play basketball is now just a brick wall with two empty backboards without a hoop to shoot on. 

Currently at Earl Grey Sr. Public School, they have two basketball backboards on the TDSB Property. There's one big problem with the status quo though.

The rims (the actual hoops) are removed once school ends at 3 p.m.

The net that was a constant up & broke down after years was never fixed, leaving no where to play basketball outside for the community. 

This means that after school hours, in the evenings & weekends - kids in the neighbourhood can't play here.

I want to change this & help provide the next generation & anyone from the neighbourhood the same constructive outlet that made a huge difference in my life.

I know the difference that basketball & something as simple as a basketball net to play at can have on a young person's life. 

I made a video outlining the issue from my voice, talking about the net's meaning from my perspective with my friend, Aron, which can be watched here:

https://youtu.be/strCP7kagGE

What type of message as a society does it send, if we don't provide opportunities for the next generation to be successful, grow & thrive?

This is important to so many people who I call my friends & family. Whether a part of Toronto's basketball community or not - this is an issue that has universal lessons & impact. 

In writing this petition, I'm asking for your support. 

The goal of this petition is with the hopes that you will help me & the neighbourhood that I love have our basketball nets publicly accessible for Summer 2019. 

Even this past weekend, with the weather warming up in the city, I saw a group of teenagers playing on the street. They were dribbling around while pretending to have a net to shoot on, all within viewing distance of what used to be a hoop.  

When I saw this, my heart sunk. This isn't the way it should be, I thought to myself.

A few years ago, I went into the school to try & get a conversation going surrounding getting these basketball nets back at Earl Grey Sr. Public School. 

I still remember vividly the response that I received. I was told by the principal of the school at the time that, "We can't bring the nets back because it's a safety concern." 

This current policy surrounding the TDSB's public space sends a contradictory message when compared to the mission statement of the school board to, "develop resilience in school communities." 

The TDSB's Model for Inner City Schools is to: "Providing support services to meet social, emotional & physical well-being of students. Establishing schools as the heart of the community." By changing this policy, they will actualize their mandate. 

By only allowing students use the basketball nets during school hours & restricting community access, this is an irrational policy.

This is just one example of outdoor basketball nets, which are removed permanently in our city or taken down outside of school hours. This represents a microcosm of a larger issue.  

I have been reached out to by residents in Toronto's east-end, the west, North York, downtown, Scarborough, Mississauga, Brampton - beyond the region that I call home & the fences of my local net.

Removing basketball nets & not putting them up is a problem that has permeated its way around the city. It needs to end. 

It disregards the people who live in the neighbourhood's ability to have somewhere to play, which is controlled by the school board.

I had a meeting this week with the principal of the school, Bill Vatzolas & TDSB trustee, Jennifer Story.

I'm really optimistic about the future & grateful for this. They have shown me nothing but respect & I want to thank them for taking the time to meet with me. 

Now, my goal is to have your support - names & reasons why this is important from your voice. I will present these in my approaching meetings with people in positions of power & get the ball rolling, so that together we can all come together & bring back our nets across the city beyond.

Toronto has real issues right now.

Astronomically rising housing costs putting burdens on families, gun violence which reached tragic levels in 2018, education budgets being cut & the need for resources within the field of mental health at all ages. 

I know that bringing back these nets is a local issue, the type which is often overlooked & forgotten.

But, if changing just one person's life for the positive because of bringing back our nets & proving a place to play basketball & shoot hoops happens - it will be all worth it. 

I hope that you support this petition & found it insightful. I'm not looking for donations right now, just trying to find a solution to address a long overdue issue. 

Here are some news articles & videos on the movement:

https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2019/04/20/former-student-petitions-to-have-basketball-nets-at-his-old-public-school-available-after-hours

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/tdsb-basketball-nets-1.5103777

https://toronto.citynews.ca/video/2019/04/18/for-the-love-of-basketball/

https://www.toronto.com/news-story/9291731-petition-calls-for-after-hours-basketball-nets-at-east-toronto-school/

Thank you for taking the time to read this. 

Sincerely,

Luke Galati | Journalist | Filmmaker
Email: luke.galati@ryerson.ca
Social Media: Twitter | Instagram
Website: lukegalati.com
Toronto, ON, Canada