Humber College’s North Campus isn’t usually busy on a Saturday morning in June. However, last weekend the school’s athletic centre was booming with excitement, as the National Basketball Youth Mentorship Program (NBYMP) hosted their all-girl’s Workshop.

The Workshop was the NBYMP’s second of the summer, following a successful camp in Brockville, Ont. It featured over 20 girls between the ages of 8-17, who not only got the chance to refine their basketball skills on the court, but their life skills off the court as well.

The NBYMP does exactly what their namesake describes—they mentor youth. In addition to their promising on-court development, turning these girls into world-class athletes, the organization takes a holistic approach to teaching children life lessons that they can use moving forward.

Last weekend’s workshop featured a number of experienced mentors, including Aycha Hamaoui, Takima Keane, Kalisha Keane and Micaella Riche.

The workshop started with a joint event for both the children and their parents, as Alison Canning of Let’s Get Together hosted a parent-involvement seminar to share experiences about growing up with basketball as a family.

Afterwards, the girls hit the court to begin developing their basketball skills. To reward their efforts, the group received a special visit from Leisa Washington, the first Canadian female NBA and WNBA agent. Washington spoke to the girls about staying and focused to reach the career they want.
After lunch, the girls got to live like the pros with their very own professional photo shoots, before finishing the day off with more basketball.

Sunday was packed to the brim with exciting activities as well. On top of continuing their on court development, the young athletes further advanced their knowledge off the court, through a special sports psychology seminar by Mental Performance Consultant, Naomi Zitt-James.
The workshop finally wrapped up with awards being handed out, where the top prize of the day, the “Paul Crawford Award of Excellence” trophy was awarded to Monica Collins. Congratulations!

As the exciting weekend came to a close, participants, parents and mentors alike were all reminded of one thing—the importance of an all-girl’s workshop as the game continues to grow.

Coach Hamaoui felt it was very important to help out for this camp as she reminisced on her own journey with the game.

“I remember growing up, the game of basketball wasn’t as readily available for girls, especially mentors,” Hamaoui said. “So being here today being able to provide assistance or even answering a question that might be lingering for a young female is definitely important to give back to.”  

Likewise, coach Riche says the impressions left on participating girls could go a long way in their lives.

“You don’t know the impression you might make on these young women,” Riche said. “And any piece of advice, any guidance, any sort of mentorship that we can give them means a lot and it matters to them to have these women who have played professionally and played at a high level coming back and helping them out with their own journeys.”

And finally, it’s the connection between basketball and life experiences that makes the NBYMP stand out. As the organization continues their summer of workshops to reach children around Ontario, Hamaoui says the goal is to continue to educate children in all aspects of life.

“Basketball is great but there is a world beyond basketball,” Hamaoui said. “Basketball is a great tool to get females, males and everyone ready for that next step in their life. Not everybody here has aspirations of being a professional player, coach or even involved in basketball. But we can use the skills that we give them on the court to translate to things that they want to do within their own lives.”

The NBYMP will host their next Workshop in Waterloo, Ont. on June 22-23 at Laurier University.