Our Co-Executive Director Quentin Mables always says that if you want people to put the guns down, you have the give them something else to pick up.

Quentin saw the power of the game to create connection, improve communication, encourage problem solving, and build our community. In 2016, we created a small basketball court for our kids and adults. Since building this court on one vacant lot, we have increased our engagement with teens from Harper High School and the surrounding area, who now know that the Peace House is somewhere they can always go to get resources and get off the streets.

In 2017, Quentin and one of our volunteers, Kelsey, developed a yoga and basketball program called Breathing and Balling to give kids more tools to connect with themselves and others.

In 2018, thanks to generous gifts from the Topfer Family Foundation, we will be building a full Breathing and Balling court. Managed by community elders, this space will include a yoga and basketball court, walking track, and bleacher seating for youth and adults, creating accessible alternatives to violence and opportunities for physical activity and stress relief. Both our Alderman and police Commander have asked for this space as soon as possible.

This space will serve as program space for our Breathing and Balling yoga and basketball program, our weekly Walking Club, and outdoor activities during summer camp. Quentin especially will be using this opportunity as a catalyst for police-community healing, coaching a youth and adult basketball team and playing regular games against the 7th district police department. Our current small basketball court will then be used for our younger children, as it is connected to our Peace House and allows for supervision.

This basketball court is our next step to bringing together communities, breaking down barriers, and creating peace in Chicago.

“With basketball, you build a bond, a family,” Quentin said. “You see people in a different way and want to connect with them off the court. Now you are part of a basketball community; your problems become my problem.”