“When people feel like they matter, we can all work together.” I believe that to be true. My name is Sally Nnamani with PeacePlayers Brooklyn, and I’m proud to share with you that as we work to build future leaders through sport, three such leaders are featured in the new Kaepernick icon jersey campaign through our partners at Nike. You can check out the ad campaign at https://www.nike.com/ and on social posts that Kap shared (@Kaepernick7).
I want to tell you a little bit about Shawn, CJ and Justin who are in the photos you will see in the campaign.
First, pictured on the far left, meet Coach Shawn. Shawn has been one of our biggest advocates for our PeacePlayers Brooklyn girls peace league program. Shawn’s energy and infectious personality can be felt by every person he comes in contact with. After helping start the PeacePlayers girls basketball program at his school – Brownsville Collaborative Middle School – Coach Shawn joined our Brooklyn team and he’ll be supporting with growing our local leadership development program this spring.
Then I want you to meet CJ, pictured in the middle. Every Saturday at PeacePlayers Brooklyn we run free basketball clinics open to all Brownsville area youth ages 13-18. CJ and his buddies from Van Dyke houses in Brooklyn regularly attend these clinics and this was where I first met CJ. CJ and his friends were a few young people that our coaches did not actively recruit, but they came and found us. I was at Van Dyke Community Center in Brooklyn one evening last fall and they came over and said we see what you and PeacePlayers have been doing at our community center and we want to be a part of it. CJ and his buddies have become champions for PeacePlayers, inviting their friends, and representing our effort to bring people together in the community. As this campaign speaks to those true to themselves on and off the field, CJ is a true representation of this. When I asked him why he wanted to be a part of PeacePlayers, CJ replied honestly: “Sports but I also want to better myself as a person.” I am very excited to have CJ in the PeacePlayers Brooklyn crew and so proud of who this young man is and will become. CJ is currently a sophomore at Spring Creek Community High School and a member of our local Leadership Development Program.
One of the other familiar faces to us in the campaign is Justin, pictured to the far right, who has been involved with PeacePlayers through the United Brownsville Cornerstone League (UBCL), one of our great partners in the Brownsville community. Justin has supported our work as a youth mentor and volunteer. Justin is a clear example of a youth leader reaching back to help his younger peers. I caught up with Justin to share what his experience has been with PeacePlayers. Here’s what he had to say: “My experience with PeacePlayers has been fantastic! I volunteered as photographer and I can see how PeacePlayers is helping a lot of kids in the community. It’s helping by taking kids off the street and giving them something positive to do while also letting them meet other kids from the neighborhood they might not know.” Justin hopes to continue to support PeacePlayers as a youth mentor and possibly a coach in the near future. Justin is currently in his second year at Queensborough Community College (QCC).
I am excited for what the future holds for these young leaders who are helping us to bridge divides and bring communities together through basketball.
A big thanks to CJ, Justin, and Coach Shawn and also to Colin Kaepernick and the team at Nike for continuing to support our programs in Brooklyn but also in Detroit, Chicago, Baltimore and LA. It’s amazing to see that we are helping to connect communities and leaders from across the U.S. to also sites across the world. We can all work together to change perceptions and create a better world for us all.
As for me and our team in Brooklyn, if you know young people in the Brownsville neighborhood of Brooklyn who want to learn more about what we’re up to come check us out. Our calendar of events is on the Brooklyn page of the PeacePlayers website.