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D.R.E.A.M.S. teaches Genesee County kids skills beyond the court

Published: Oct. 3, 2021 at 3:04 PM EDT
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FLINT, Mich. (WJRT) -“Young people are struggling right now. They need our help and it’s up to our community to save ourselves,” said Hamady High School Alumni, Royce Stephens.

Royce Stephens’ goal---to help kids in Genesee County develop skills needed to navigate through life as adults.

”I realized that my players needed other activities than basketball. Because being realistic, everybody is not going to the NBA. And unfortunately, everybody is not going to play college basketball,” Stephens said.

Teaching skills beyond the basketball court--

“If I can get them in the gym and build a relationship with them and understand what their interests are, I can start pipelines to colleges,” Stephens said.

Stephens is the executive director of Developing Respectful Educated Aspiring Minds with Sports or D.R.E.A.M.S.

Saturday, the non profit hosted a free “basketball and life skills” academy at Hamady High School for boys and girls from 5th through 8th grade.

“We’ve got to teach these young people how deal with their feelings. Some of them, they don’t know how to act. They don’t know how to say that they’re hurting, so instead of saying that they are hurting, they get mad, they’re angry and they do things without thinking and we have violence. And these kids, if it goes untreated they grow up to be those people,”

That’s why in addition to basketball, the students took part in sessions focusing on mental health awareness, nutrition, financial management, and how to handle interactions with law enforcement.

Tools they can use after they leave the gym.

“I just hope that this can be something that people can understand that sports are important, if you use them properly,” he said.

And while D.R.E.A.M.S. is based in Flint, Stephens says it was important to have kids from all over Genesee County take part.

75 students registered for Saturday’s academy.

“Last year there was a lot of tension about race. So I made sure that we included kids from all over the county so at least this one day, they can interact with each other and learn a little bit about each other and be okay with each other,” Stephens said.

The non profit also provides students in Genesee County with unique experiences in their communities.

“Right now, I have an urban agriculture program. I’m working with some of the HBCU’s to come in and we’re going to work with the youth to prepare them to go to college and pursue careers in agriculture,” he said.

Stephens-who has lost some of his students to violence, says he wants to show kids there are other options-- than life in the streets.

“As long as I can keep this gym open or keep a gym open somewhere. I know for that hour or so, they’re safe,” Stephens said.

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