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January 26, 2010

Hoops for Haiti – How Local Can Touch Global

Hoops-for-haiti Images of devastation; we have been bombarded with them since the earthquake hit Haiti. The personal stories of salvation and struggle continue to fill our daily consciousness. We have seen the miracle of a man pulled from a collapsed convenience store after 11 days, a husband traveling an hour to dig his beloved wife out of the rubble with his own bare hands and countless stories of equal human courage and tragedy in real-time, enabled by current technology. 

The upside of all this media saturation is the ability to deliver the story without lag time. Technologies are being developed as we speak to aid in the crisis and create solutions that were once unthinkable. Crisis Camp Haiti is a good example of the technology community's invaluable contribution to solving logistics issues to help connect aid with need at a micro level.

Now, more than ever, we are delivering the message from family to family. It is not just stories on the nightly news anymore. Mobile apps, benefit concerts, the ability to make donations through texting and itunes; these are all the language of our young people. We are not depending on them to digest these stories through traditional outlets, we are speaking to them, quite frankly, where they hang out. And we are touching them. In a big way. This is all the Global piece.

Here is where our High School basketball team comes in – the Local piece. Sometimes we think our teens are egocentric and do not pay attention to the world around them. With college applications and the rigor of their activities, jobs, coursework and social life (not necessarily in that order) they can sometimes get caught up in the microcosm of their own lives and appear to be apathetic.

And then they surprise us.

Our local basketball team, The Port Washington Vikings, is playing the Uniondale Knights on February 2nd. One of the young men on our team learned that this school district has a substantial Haitian-American population, both student and faculty. He thought it would be a wonderful show of support to their fellow athletes to solicit donations from our local community and present them to their coach at the game. These young men live in extremely different communities. Yet they are tied by the love of a sport, and in this case, the empathy they feel for a community that is grieving this disaster first-hand. A community that is not 1500 miles away in the Caribbean, but 15 miles away and close enough to ride a bike to.

Would this young man have come up with his idea without the benefit of the constant reminder from interactive media? Perhaps. But the fact that we have found a way to get young people more involved in current events by speaking to them in their own language is game changing. Current events are no longer clipped from a newspaper with a one paragraph description for a social studies assignment. They are woven into their daily lives in the places they congregate organically. 

Kudos to the Port Washington, NY Vikings Basketball team. Both you and the Uniondale Knights will come out winners, no matter what the score of the game.

Original 50-something Mom Blog post. Amy also blogs at i could cry but i don't have time and leaving the zip code.