#UrbanSquash #Cleveland enriches children on court, in classrooms and is beginning a large expansion (video)


CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Senior Noah Lee described the sport of squash like this: "You're in this room. You have this racquet. You hit a ball against a wall to your other player, and then they try to hit it back."

Sounds easy enough, right?

It turns out squash is a challenging sport, one that requires speed, strength, agility, focus, and coordination, to name a few things.

Urban Squash Cleveland is a youth development organization that implements academic support and enrichment opportunities, along with the sport, to create a sustainable path for students.

The five participating Cleveland schools are Urban Community School, the Cleveland School of Science and Medicine at John Hay and the three campuses of E-Prep - Cliffs, Willard and Woodland Hills.

Iago Cornes, the program's executive director, stressed Urban Squash Cleveland isn't a squash program; it's a youth development program that uses squash as a pillar.

Tryouts and practices are held at Cleveland State and Case. Shuttling the students from school to practice is a major challenge, Cornes said.

However, that will soon be a concern of the past, as a groundbreaking ceremony was held in October for the program's new facility being built at Urban Community School, located at West 47th Street and Lorain Avenue.

New Documentary About Cleveland Youth Advocacy and Arts Organization

Photo courtesy of Amanda King.

Photo courtesy of Amanda King.

Less than a year since being founded by 28-year-old law student and artist Amanda King, Shooting Without Bullets has developed a dedicated core of teens telling their stories through art.  Their stories will be showcased in Under Exposed, a documentary film.

King began Shooting Without Bullets as a response to the tumultuous local socio-political climate kickstarted by the death of Tamir Rice in the fall of 2014. After she was named to the ensuing Cleveland Community Police Commission and serving on it for a year, King realized that it still fell short in communicating with portions of the population it was created to serve. 

“The way it was structured – very meeting-oriented, very recommendation-oriented – wasn’t conducive to interactions with teenagers in particular,” she says. 

This notion of invisibility and disconnection is echoed by the young people involved in the program.

“Some people acknowledge us, but for others it’s in one ear and out the other,” 16-year-old photographer Leilani Williams, a student at John Hay’s Cleveland School of Architecture and Design, comments. “Especially as black youth, we get pushed off so easily.”

“People shake us off like we’re not there or only acknowledge us for the bad things,” reiterates 20-year-old Charles Mosley, also a student at CSAD.

Follow the link to find out more about their work.