Nayon ng Kabataan, a temporary home run by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) for the care and rehabilitation of the socially disadvantaged youth, was the site for the implementation of the Meralco Basketboys Program, a sports-development initiative by One Meralco Foundation, the Meralco Sports and Youth Advocacy office and the Meralco Bolts PBA team. The program is composed of a basketball clinic and a values integration session for the youth.
“Sports is something we see as a tool to bring the youth together,” says Ryan Gregorio, Head Coach of the Meralco Bolts and Head of Meralcoís Sports and Youth Advocacy office. “It is an avenue where they not only become aware of their physical well-being but most importantly, understand values such as leadership, sportsmanship and teamwork,” Gregorio continues.
One hundred boys and girls aged 6-17 years old from the center were treated to a day of sheer adrenaline rush and friendly competition as they actively participate in the warm-up, drills and actual basketball game last Saturday, February 18, in the shelter grounds in Mandaluyong City. This group of young players also gamely listened to Coach Ryan as he discussed and inculcated different lessons and the positive attitudes one can get from engaging in sports.
Mark (not his real name), one of the seniors among the group and a basketball fan, was in high spirits as he recollected his Basketboys experience. “Masayang-masaya po ako sa basketball clinic na ginanap noong Sabado. Marami po akong natutunang mga aral tulad ng disiplina, respeto at teamwork na magagamit ko sa pang-araw araw. Napakabait po ng nagturo sa amin at ipinamahagi nila ang kanilang kaalaman sa amin. (I really enjoyed the basketball clinic last Saturday. I learned many values such as discipline, respect and teamwork which I can use in my daily life. The ones who led the clinic were very kind to share their basketball knowledge to us.),” says Mark.
“Last Saturday’s activity was an answered prayer,” exclaims Asuncion Flores, the DSWD Head of Nayon ng Kabataan. “It was very timely as the kids will be participating in a sportsfest in Tanay, Rizal soon. Whatever new skill they learned during the clinic such as the warm-up will certainly be used as they take their game to the next level during the sportsfest. Not only that, the set of values discussed during the integration session is supportive of our aim to instill values among the youth. We are very grateful that this kind of intervention was led to our way and I hope this would not be the last,” she continues.
Surely, this kind of initiative, marked with a specially-designed basketball clinic and a robust emphasis on values integration, will continue and may even accommodate other sports that are becoming popular with these kids such as football.
“We want to make the program enjoyable and engaging to the marginalized kids who are our prospective Basketboys. Having gone through being abused, neglected, exploited, abandoned and orphaned would undeniably affect the well-being of these children. With sports as our main platform, we want them to regain their self-confidence so they can be self-sufficient and be productive citizens of the country,” declares Jeffrey Tarayao, President of One Meralco Foundation and Chief CSR Officer of Meralco.