The Youth Can Story
The idea for Youth Can was born way back in 2014. We were inspired by an organization called Hoops 4 Hope. They used basketball to teach Life Skills to children in Zimbabwe and South Africa. Basketball was how they caught a child’s attention. But the Life Skills was how they changed that child’s life.
In Zimbabwe and South Africa, H4H was using sport to teach kids about HIV / AIDS and how to avoid drugs, stay off the streets and live a healthy life-style.
We believed that this model of sport-for-good was something we could replicate in Lithuania. Certainly, it wasn’t going to be hard to get kids from rural areas to come and play basketball; but what about the Life Skills part?
In 2014, we identified suicide and alcoholism as two major issues that were plaguing Lithuania and impacting almost every citizen in some way or another.
Our idea was to focus on some of Lithuania’s most rural and disadvantaged villages. The simple plan was to take what we’d learned from H4H and apply it here.
Well, it worked out great but soon we realized that – as much as Lithuanians love basketball, we also love all sorts of other sports and activities.
The kids taught us that it was never really about basketball in the first place – it was about community and friendship and purpose and simply having fun!
So we started expanding our program to include other fun things kids & young adults like to do like dance, run, code, play soccer…you name it!
At the same time, we felt the need to start to really focus on the Life Skills part of our work.
The question was, how do we make learning important life lessons fun?
We spent a lot of time trying to answer this question, researching what other programs do, holding seminars with our coaches, and surveying our participants.
We think that what we came up with is pretty cool, and the coaches and students in our program think so too!
The next thing we had to do was clearly define our goals.
As a program, what was our mission? What type of impact did we wish to make?
And most importantly, how could we create the type of environment that would truly enable the kids and young adults of Lithuania to flourish?
the life skills
safe and positive
In 2020, we find ourselves in our sixth year as a program. We have learned so much along the way and we feel grateful to get to call this work.
There’s just nothing quite like putting a smile on a child’s face. Or having your program graduates come back and volunteer teaching the younger kids, or to watch a young adult who once felt lost, start to truly find their way in life.
There are so many reasons why we love what we do but the number one reason is the Family that we’ve built a long the way.
Ultimately, we are grateful for every single person, past and present, that feels like
they’re a part of the Youth Can Team!