Historically, there’s been very little to do on a summer night in Chelsea, and that’s been the problem.
Now, in its third summer, The Movement has been the cure to hapless wandering for local youth.
Instead, they hoop it up.
Coordinated by Councilors Yamir Rodriguez and Damali Vidot, along with Isidra Quinonez and Danny Mojica, The Movement keeps Chelsea kids age 13-20 busy on Wednesday nights and Saturday mornings.
“I think it’s just a great environment because a lot of the younger kids play with the older kids and they can see them on the street outside of the league and say ‘hi,’” said Rodriguez. “A lot of friendships start because of The Movement. It develops kind of a mentor situation because a lot of these kids don’t have an older brother and this helps that too. It’s kind of an unintended consequence, but it’s one of the best things about it.
“The kids love hanging out and playing ball,” he continued.
Vidot said it helps to bring youth together in a relaxed, but supervised, environment.
“On Saturday morning, they don’t hand out, but they come to play,” she said. “After playing all day long, they will not want to go out to the streets when they get home. They’ll stay in and take it easy. On Friday night, they don’t want to stay out because they have to be here on Saturday morning. You have the 13-year-old playing with the 20-year-old, so it helps them become better players. It also builds community. It’s not like a lot of other youth leagues where you have to sign in and sign out. It’s street ball. They can be themselves.”
The Movement came out of a desperate situation, where the community was reeling in the spring of 2016 after the shooting death of Pablo Villeda during an early morning teen party on Washington Avenue. The shooting also injured numerous other young people, and it showed that the youth who are not “at-risk” needed some activities as well.
That’s when The Movement came together.
Now, the league has several hundred young people playing against one another all summer. Typically, the games are played at Highland Park, but a renovation project there may force them to move to the Williams School.
The Movement will begin play in early July, and it had its annual kick-off at Chelsea High last weekend – with the Battle of the Classes and Police vs. Fire basketball games.
“Basketball is the entertainment,” said Rodriguez, “but it’s the environment that has become very important.”