Javonn, a member of PeacePlayers’ Leadership Development Program in Brooklyn, says that in the three years since he first joined, he has changed both on a personal level and in the way he and other boys in his divided neighborhood relate to one another.
Confidence and communication skills definitely came in handy when Javonn found himself playing basketball with young men from opposing housing developments in the LDP. In Brownsville, home to both Javonn and PeacePlayers Brooklyn, where you live comes with rules: where you can go, where you can’t, who you can hang out with, and who you should avoid. Although most PeacePlayers youth in Brooklyn aren’t themselves gang-affiliated, their everyday lives are still dictated by the neighborhoods
gang lines. Javonn, like every other young person in the neighborhood, knew the rules, so when boys from different housing developments joined the LDP team, “it was kind of iffy because you know, like just the Brownsville background.”
“Just have it like having Howard [Houses] coming in… I mean Seth Low [Houses] is not really a big problem for Van Dyke [Houses], but you know, for Howard, well that’s kind of more of an issue,” Javonn says of the intricacies in navigating life in the neighborhood, and even on his own team. “But playing basketball, you know, we all united.”
Fun seems like something simple, something automatic. But for Javonn and his friends, fun with people across neighborhood divides is something that is groundbreaking – not just for the boys of the Brooklyn LDP but for the entire neighborhood as well.
In celebration of the 20th Anniversary, we are featuring our long-time participants all month long! Be sure to follow along on social media @peaceplayersintl.