On Feb. 10, community members gathered at Michele Clark High School, 5101 W. Harrison St., for the Balling with the Vote three-on-three basketball tournament. The teams featured players from the West and South sides.
“Our goal is to create an opportunity for community healing and to foster an environment for young people to learn more about civic engagement,” said Griffen Saul, the founder of Youth Organizing Until Trauma Heals (YOUTH), a youth advocacy organization.
Corey Dooley, a candidate for 29th Ward alderman and supporter, said the event was also about educating young people on the new police oversight councils that the city is creating.
“With the kids, you have to do something that captures their attention spans,” he said. “That’s where the idea of the tournament came from. We invited our candidates to show their face and let them know it’s fun to vote.”
Dion Ranson, a South Side student, said he attended the tournament to help a relative who is one of the event organizers. Ranson said he ended up learning about civics, too.
“I asked a couple of questions at the tables and found out more information about voting,” Ranson said. “I just turned 18 and I registered as soon as I could. I want to become more aware of what is going on in my community and learn more about the candidates and more about the voting process in general.”
Srdjan Majdov, a Michele Clark civic teacher, said the basketball tournament also exposed young people to different networks and neighborhood groups.
“And also, most specifically, we have elections coming up,” he said. “We want them to be aware of how participating in something like that is very important for the future of their communities because they have an opportunity to meet people who are running. They can also register to vote on the spot here.”
Madison Williams, a 17-year-old Westinghouse student, explained the importance of voting.
“I think voting is very important,” she said. “When people don’t have the right to vote, it causes a lot of changes that could be prevented. Registering to vote is one of the things I most look forward to doing when I turn 18.”