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September 10, 2010 -- Each year, close to 50 youth take part in “Hoopin' it Up,” a basketball camp open to youth living in the Hillsdale Terrace and Slavin Court public housing communities in southwest Portland. Developed three years ago by April Soles, the manager of Hillsdale Terrace, and Officer Tim Evans of the Portland Police Bureau, the goal was to provide an opportunity for youth to participate in quality summer recreation – something that is often out of reach for these economically challenged families. The program began as a partnership between the Housing Authority of Portland, the Portland Police Bureau, and several other community organizations. Recently, Schools Uniting Neighborhoods joined the effort and rented Jackson Middle School to the program for free.
The week-long camp includes a writing component and track and field training. An equally important aim of the program is to teach kids about leadership and decision-making. The Gang Resistance Education and Training (GREAT) Program curriculum is also weaved throughout the camp along with youth learn life skills. Volunteer coaches reinforce positive behavior and healthy decisions are encouraged.
Motivational speakers and community members making a difference address the campers each day at lunch. Portland firefighters from Station 18 where invited to visit the campers in late August, bringing with them fire safety messages, a tour of Fire Engine 18 and rescue equipment, and an interactive discussion on what it takes to be a firefighter.
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