PeacePlayers Brooklyn, within a nationwide network, engages over 100 youth, ages 8-18, in sustained, sports-based after-school programming led by committed and effective local coaches. Combining basketball with leadership development and peace education, our program helps young people develop the skills, attitudes and behaviors that empower them to engage conflict in positive ways and emerge from the program as leaders in their communities.
Peace League is an after-school leadership through sports program serving youth ages 8-13. Peace League creates a safe space for youth to have fun and build friendships with peers across community divides, as well as opportunities to access positive, caring role models in their coaches. Peace League is offered in the Fall (September through December) and Spring (March through June). Sessions, which take place 1-2 times a week, include a combination of leadership workshops and basketball drills. Cities also host Twinning events that bring together youth in the Peace League program. The Peace League reaches 60 youth annually.
LDP is designed for high school age youth. The program is structured as a basketball team that creates a culture of teamwork, belonging, and peer-to-peer support. Unlike traditional basketball teams, “tryouts” are not required to join the team. Instead, eligibility is determined by age and commitment to the objectives of the program. The four pillars of the LDP are basketball skills development, personal development, experiential learning, and community service. LDP provides opportunities to mentor younger participants, access caring adult role models, and resources to support their personal development and academic goals. LDP uses basketball to teach life skills on and off the court. LDP participants are also given the opportunity to serve as peer mentors for members of the Peace League program, allowing them to become role models and leaders in their community. In communities where gang involvement is common, PeacePlayers provides an alternative for young people and a network of positive influencers who are invested in seeing youth grow and achieve. The LDP reaches 30+ young people annually.
PeacePlayers offers a 4-week basketball summer camp for youth ages 8-17. Summer programming is a combination of basketball skills development and experiential learning activities. Summer camp serves as an added enrichment program for youth that allows them to experience the best of our basketball and leadership programming. The summer camp has reached over 100 youth since we started in 2017.
Alesha is the newest addition to the PeacePlayers team and is excited to continue her career in Brooklyn as the Brooklyn Program Director.
Alesha was born in Brooklyn, NY but was raised in Athens, GA. Her love for basketball began early when her mother and father introduced her to the game. She grew up playing basketball with her brothers and the other boys in her neighborhood until she was old enough to play on an organized team. Her work ethic and skill earned her a scholarship to play Division I basketball at Mercer University, but after an almost career- ending injury, Alesha would later transfer to Xavier University of Louisiana (an HBCU in New Orleans) where she would finish her collegiate basketball career with two conference championships and a B.A in Political Science in 2016.
After graduation, Alesha turned down the opportunity to play professional basketball overseas because of her strong commitment to social justice. She instead decided to move to Brooklyn, NY and began her career as a Community Organizer at one of the largest nonprofits in Brooklyn, Brooklyn Community Services, where she worked in partnership with various mental health facilities, homeless shelters, community centers, and after school programs in some of Brooklyn’s most under resourced neighborhoods with the goal of creating a better Brooklyn for all.
After three years as an organizer, Alesha returned to sports as a Program Manager at Up2Us Sports. At Up2Us, Alesha helped train and support over 100 coaches on best practices in mentorship and sports-based youth development.
Alesha recently completed her M.A at New York University in Steinhardt’s Educational Leadership, Politics, and Advocacy program. She is dedicated to the intersection of sport and social justice and centers the transformational power that sport has to build and maintain community.
Matt’s coaching philosophy: I believe that it is a coaches’ job to educate their players on the game of basketball as well as life. I believe that a coach should be encouraging, uplifting, gentle yet truthful, firm when necessary, but above all, loving.