Keeping Them in the Loop


The following article was posted in The Times of India.

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Basketball enthusiast Shaun Jayachandran uses the rules of the game to teach corporation school students life skills.

It’s a dream project that Shaun Jayachandran scored off of a rebound. Decades ago, his mother, an orphan in Tuticorin, was helped by an American to study and make a life for herself in the US. Years later; when she told her son Shaun the story of how she got her shot at a better life because of that one kind act, he decided he was going to play it forward.

So, every year for the last two, Jayachandran, a US-based teacher and basketball enthusiast, founder of Crossover Bsketball and Scholars Academy, has been organising basketball camps in Chennai – called Hoops Creating Hope – not just to teach the sport but use it to impart value education as well.

2014 is extra special for Crossover because Jayachandran has managed to rope in nine-year NBA veteran Damien Wilkins as part of the Hoops Creating Hope faculty.

He will be accompanying Jayachandran to Chennai for the workshop here this July to speak about how basketball was so closely tied to his education.

The Hoops Creating Hope workshops are free of charge for students, targeted at children of both government and private schools, and takes place at the American International School campus in Taramani. “For students of some of the schools like the Government Primary School in Rangarajapuram, Crossover even paid for their transportation to the camp.

Ramabhadran S., a fellow at Teach for India, which is a nationwide movement of college graduates and professionals working towards eliminating educational inequity, says, “It was a great experience for the children from my class.” He adds that last year he took his class of 20 children for the camp and it was such a hit that this year, 206 students from corporation schools across the city have signed up.

“Last year, children from underprivileged backgrounds were given shoes and basketballs. We even had an ex-Olympic champion speak about how sport was a commitment. I think it helped the children from my class understand what it takes to get ahead – team work, perseverance and courage,” says Ramabhadran.

At the 10-day camp, leadership, character, teamwork, and communication are focused on, along with nutrition, athletic yoga, physical conditioning, as well as individual and team-oriented offensive and defensive basketball skills.

“Children get exposed to various skills needed to succeed in higher education, and help in their future employment. As these children learn to dribble, pass and shoot the ball, they also learn to become better human beings,” he says. A slam dunk, either way.

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