Lay Up Alumni!
Get to know a few of our participants...
We have been running Lay-Up programs in priority communities across Toronto for over four years. During this time, we have had the pleasure of getting to know some outstanding kids. Below are just a few of their stories and what they have taken away from their Lay-Up experience.
Lay Up's Community Stories!
Firgrove Public School
Matthew remembers his first shot ever, which was at a Lay-Up program - and it was a special one; a buzzer beater at the end of a game to lead his team to victory! Matthew would always be the first one in the gym and the last one to leave. Throughout his time with Lay-Up he has gained a better understanding of communication, teamwork, positivity, and respect. Additionally, he really valued the skills he learned from Yoga with Angelica. “I enjoyed mindfulness/meditation this summer, it helped me focus on shooting and I learned how to be healthy, active and a role model outside of basketball.” Matthew has become such an amazing role model with Lay-Up, we can’t wait to see him continuously encourage others and be a positive force for years to come.
Jalel & Adil A.
Pierre Laporte Middle School & Firgrove Public School
Age: 10 & 12
Adil and Jalel Abdally are brothers who attended Lay-Up. Adil started off with our after-school program and went home to tell Jalel how much fun he was having and that he should also join the program. Both Adil and Jalel aspire to be professional basketball players in the future, but they understand the importance of education. “I learned resilience and a good attitude can help me reach my goals” said Jalel. “Working together as a team is very important,” Adil added. We can’t wait to see Adil and Jalel take what they learned from Lay-Up and use it off-the-court and into the classroom.
St. Francis Desilles
Kimberly came to Lay-Up because she was interested in picking up basketball but left with much more than that. She made new friends and learned many new values as well. Kimberly received inspiration from one of our special guests – the York University Women’s team – when they “shared examples about their own lives and the hard work that went into them being where they are today.” Kimberly can’t wait to tell her friends to join a Lay-Up program!
Firgrove Driftwood Public School
Caesar came to Lay-Up because his brother showed him all the new skills and moves he learned. He was so excited to join his first basketball camp and couldn’t wait to learn all things his favourite NBA player Lebron James does. Caesar learned a lot from our guests - “I had so much fun when Coach Kissi came, I enjoyed doing the drills he did with us and I learned to carry on the importance of teamwork in the classroom.” We can’t wait to see Caesar use what he has learned at Lay-Up and apply to life and school!
Gosford Public School
Jaylin joined Lay-Up because he wanted to improve his confidence on the court; he did that and much more! He improved his dribbling and shooting, but most importantly, he developed his conflict resolution skills. “My favourite guest speaker was Kenrick, he talked about the importance of conflict resolution and how I can solve any conflict positively.” Jaylin was a positive role model throughout camp and we know he will use the things he learned about conflict resolution at school and at home.
Don Valley Middle School
Johann loves soccer, but he decided he wanted to try other sports and basketball was at the top of that list. Growing up in Colombia, he had heard of Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant and had a chance to watch videos of both. He was thrilled when his mother told him that she signed him up for the Lay-Up program. “I couldn’t wait to learn every basketball technique that I saw Kobe Bryant do,” said Johann. The biggest thing he will take from our program is mindfulness; it helps him stay focused and not only for sports but for every aspect of life!
St. John XXIII Catholic School
Rhea came to Lay-Up a bit nervous because she didn’t know how her skills would match-up to other players in the program. She quickly learned that we’re all about helping participants regardless of their skill level. The best part was that wasn’t just our coaches, all of our other participants made her feel welcome as well. “I like this camp a lot, it’s the best camp I’ve ever been to. I learned a lot from all the guests that came in and talked about other things besides basketball.” We are so happy that Rhea had an amazing summer with us!
Sprucecourt Public School
Darius has been coming to Lay-Up for 3 years and has improved with every new program. He has invited a lot of his friends to come to Lay-Up and is always telling them about how much fun he’s having. Darius enjoys all the games we play after our drills and he is such an amazing teammate and role model to his peers. “My favourite player is Demar Derozan, and it’s my dream to make it to the NBA. I come here to get better and better so one day I can make it.” We are excited to watch and be a part of Darius’ pursuit to reach his dreams and goals!
Claude Watson School of Arts
Serena came to Lay-Up with her brother Gary to stay active during the summer. “I never really had an interest with basketball. Ever since I came to Lay-Up I really like playing basketball and learning new skills.” She was very excited to meet all of our guests because she enjoys learning new things. Serena also valued our theme of the day. “I really like how we do the word of the day - it helps me focus on one thing and then something new the next day.” We are so happy that we were able to introduce Serena to basketball and that she enjoyed the program!
Lord Dufferin Public School
Tocarri has been coming to Lay-Up for 3 years with his brothers, Teshawn and Andre. Tocarri has high energy and all participants at the program enjoy it and feed off of it. He really likes helping other players in drills and particularly enjoyed giving them the confidence to get better. He really enjoyed our yoga and mindfulness sessions - “I really liked when Angelica came in and did yoga and mindfulness, it helps me get into a calm place.” We are glad to see Tocarri continually coming back to Lay-Up and bringing that high energy to our program.
Sprucecourt Public School
Mohamad has been coming to Lay-Up for 2 years. He heard all his friends talking about it and decided to try out it out for himself. Now, he does the same and tells all the students at his school about it! Mohamad was very interested in our guest speaker from “Starts With Me.” “I like how that Mike Stroh gave us his own personal story about how he was affected by mental illness, and how he gradually found out a solution to work on himself.” We are very lucky to have such a great ambassador for our program, thanks Mohamad!
St. Michael’s Choir
Justice came to Lay-Up with his brother and friends. He really enjoyed our guests that came in and “learned a lot about being active and eating healthy.” Justice’s favourite part of the program was playing against coaches during shoot around and working on his dribbling skills. The main values that he took away from the program were “respect and teamwork.” We hope to see Justice share these values and other learnings outside of Lay-Up.
St. Jane Frances
Kyle is a Lay-Up veteran. He’s been with Lay-up since the beginning and it was one of the leaders amongst our younger players. Kyle has been playing ball most of his life: “Since I was 5. I used to get a ball and use my sister’s laundry basket and I shoot it in there.” Kyle has grown a lot with his time in the Lay-Up Program, progressing into one of the best players among his peers. Kyle plans to remain with Lay-Up to continue improving his basketball skills and specifically work on his behind the back dribble. We’re excited to have Kyle and his leadership back at our program, and are very proud that he will use these skills within his community.
Brookview Middle School
Jalen came to Lay-Up looking to improve his basketball skills, but what he left with was much more then that. Jalen left with a better understanding of respect and responsibility, not to mention skills he learned in Visions of Science. “The coolest thing I learned was from Visions of Science called Oobleck, and it doesn’t go by the laws of science, its like it’s own thing.” Jalen learned lots from Lay-Up and its guests and plans on returning for the House League Program. We can’t wait to see Jalen grow and use the skills he has learned from our off the court curriculum in his academic career.
Brookview Middle School
Jayden has been a part of Lay-Up from the beginning bringing his younger brother to the program in 2017. Jayden continues to return to Lay-Up because of the way the program is run. “You guys play basketball and do science and those (other) programs don’t. They do just challenges and exercise, in Lay-Up its more than exercising. We have to do lot of things like running around, energy and learning how to treat people.” We can’t wait to see Jayden use everything that he has learned at Lay-Up in his everyday life!
Gosford Public School
This was Anesiah’s second summer with Lay-Up and she returned with her amazing personality! Aneisah was a model participant at Lay-Up, she was engaged in all activities and developed many skills while attending the program. When asked what was the coolest thing she learned from our guests she said “That you can believe in yourself; always be part of your team and help others.” It is this attitude that has made Anesiah an up and coming leader in our programs, and we are so excited to watch her continued growth.
Anesiah is always bringing happiness to those around her, and as we concluded our story, she had one more thing to say “I have one thing to say! You guys are the best camp that I ever went to!”
Oakville Middle School
Marcus has been a part of Lay-Up Since last summer. He attending both the summer program as well as the afterschool program, and through all of the programs we have time and time again seen Marcus improve. He has transitioned from being quiet to being one of the most vocal leaders in the program. Marcus himself has mentioned that he will use his newfound skills to become more responsible in his everyday life and aspires to be a captain on his school team!
Brookview Middle School
Dylan was a Hustle Award recipient this summer. He was a sought after player for his energy, intensity, and love for the sport, but Dylan enjoyed the other side of Lay-Up just as much. “The other camps I’ve been to only focus on basketball and games. I like Lay-Up a lot more because of the academic part.” Dylan really enjoyed Visions of Science as well as all the other guest speakers. “I learned about resilience, about science – had no idea about how prosthetics work.” But more importantly, Dylan is taking notice of the messages we are sharing at Lay-Up. “I didn’t really much care about school, I didn’t care about my grades, but now I think I’ll take it a lot more seriously.”
We can’t wait for Dylan to attend our House League Program and be a leader for the newcomers!
Gosford Public School
Ashshawn has been playing basketball since he was 6 and really likes the sport. Ashshawn enjoys the competition portion of Lay-Up, specifically the skills and drills, “It’s fun and challenging.” Through Lay-Up, Ashshawn has learned to never give up, something that he is able to take with him to various aspects in his life. “Last 2 years, when I was with another program, I didn’t improve on anything, but when I’m here, I’ve improved a lot and became more responsible.” We can’t wait to see Ashshawn in the fall for the House League Program and to see him use everything that he has learned in the Lay-Up Program in his daily life.
Emanuel has been a leader both on and off the court at Lay-Up for the last four years. Whenever we need someone to lead their fellow participants, we look towards Emanuel. “I think this might be my last one. I’m getting too old.” Luckily we have a coaches-trainee program that allows participants to transition from participant into coach through free coaches training provided by Ontario Basketball Association and supported by our team. Emanuel is a shining example of what we strive for at Lay-Up and we are so excited to see him continue his development in our coaches trainee program.
Raphael is one of those participants who just make camp better. He is one of the first at the camp and one of the very last to leave, but it’s not just the time that Raphael puts into his game that makes him one of the best players, it’s the dedication to the sport that really sets him apart. “I think I’m the best at defense. I improved it more when the coaches told me like everything about defense, so I think I’m like one of the best defenders in the camp.” The reason that Raphael was such a good defender was due to the fact that he arrived early and worked with the coaches to hone this skill.
It wasn’t just basketball Raphael learned. “Resilience and respect, because when you grow up you have to be respectful to your family and everyone else, and then resilience if you get fired from a job or something, you need to get back up.” Its these skills that we are most proud of, and we want to see Raphael use these skills in his daily life.
Lancaster Public School
Michael has been with Lay-Up for a few years now and its been amazing seeing him improve by leaps and bounds each and every year. Michael has grown into one of the best players, and best leaders at our camps. When asked what basketball skills has he improved the most he replied “Technical skills; Lay-Up trains you in every part of basketball so that you can’t focus on one particular thing, so I would say everything! I’m good at dribbling, shooting, and defence but boxing out and getting rebounds is something I really improved on because there is a lot of tall people in this camp, for example Muhammad and Emanuel, you’re gonna need to jump and box out for them.” Aside from his basketball skills, Michael has significantly grown in his leadership in the classroom and this was most evident with the many guest speakers we had come to Lay-Up. We cannot wait for Michael to come to our next program!
Firgrove Public School
Marquice is a first time Lay-Up Summer Camp participant. He has been a part of Lay-Up through the House League last year and has expanded into the summer program. Marquice enjoyed the summer program for a few reasons.“I get to play more basketball so it’s awesome!” as for the non-basketball activities at the program, “Those are really fun and good learning experiences.” He came to the program specifically for the basketball programming but the addition of the off-court social curriculum that really separated Lay-Up from other programs. “Before I didn’t know stuff about basketball but coming to this camp, it taught me a lot more about basketball and about life.”
Gosford Public School
Emmanuel came to his first year of Lay-Up camp’s with his big sister Anesiah. Emmanuel represents the future of the Lay-Up Program. If he is any indication of the future then Lay-Up is in great hands. Emmanuel boasts that his shooting form is the most improved skill he’s acquired at Lay-Up, but we believe the most improved skill is passion for the sport. According to Emmanuel’s mom, he its always excited to go to camp and wakes up very early every day to come to the shoot around before camp begins. Most 6 year olds are not able to dribble, let along shoot, but Emmanuel was doing it all and was even working on his between the leg and behind the back dribbles in the morning.
When one of our guest speakers Kenrick came to our program, Emmanuel took notice. “With Kenrick I learn everything. For example, if I left my lunch at home, I would run all the way back home and come all the way back here I won’t get mad.” These are some very mature lessons learned by a 6-year-old, and something that he can translate into all aspects of his life.
Clington Street Public School
I really want to join a basketball group in the community, but almost every basketball team are filled with boys or there’s a big waiting list. I was excited when my mom received a brochure at Lord Dufferin and she was able to sign me up on the spot.” Sara was able to register for the Lay-Up joining an already large group of girls in our program. She was a leader both on and off the court especially in Visions of Science. “We learned about buoyancy, we had to make a boat and the boat had to be able to carry this dinosaur which was kind of heavy. My boat sadly failed but I learned the reason why. It failed because the boat was lighter than the actual dinosaur, so for the boat to be able to carry it, it has to be heavier than the dinosaur.” She also learned several life lessons from Lay-Up staff that she is excited to apply in her everyday life. “Accountability is something you can apply in basketball and in the real world.
Camp: Brookview Middle School
Favourite Player: DeMar DeRozan
Favourite Part of Camps: Basketball Games & Competition
Elijah is 12 years old and is a huge basketball fan! He’s been with Lay-Up since the summer of 2016 and credits the program for helping to improve his ball handling, passing, and overall basketball knowledge immensely over the past year. He always brings a positive attitude and we’ve gotten to watch him grow into a leader who helps set the tone for our program with consistent hard work, effort and a willingness to listen and be coached.
When we asked him what else he learned from the program that’s helped him grow as a player and person, he replied, “To be a good basketball player, you have to be a good listener.” He’s as excited as we are for our upcoming summer programs and says he’ll be staying in Lay-up programs for as long as he can!
On March 19th, 2017, we rewarded Elijah for all of his dedication, leadership and positivity by sending him to the Toronto Raptors game, organized by MLSE Foundation and Ontario Basketball Association who provided him the amazing opportunity to present the game ball to the referees and meet the captains of the 2 teams.
A big thank you from Elijah and the Lay-Up team, to our community partners MLSE Foundation and Ontario Basketball Association for providing such an awesome opportunity!