Updated 11/15/2008 04:28 PM
StreetSquash Facility Opens In Harlem
To view our videos, you need to
install Adobe Flash 9 or above. Install now.
Then come back here and refresh the page.
The popular after-school program StreetSquash, which combines athletics and academics, moved into its new Harlem home Saturday.
The free youth program provides tutoring, mentoring and college preparation to kids.
"I think it's great," said StreetSquash participant Lizandra Rodriguez. "We have eight courts, more than anybody in New York City. Now that we have our own facility, other people can come play us."
The program requires participants to finish an hour of homework and an hour of squash, four days a week.
"Our program really develops the child's emotional well being, their personal well being, as well as their academic well being," said Leah Brown, StreetSquash's program director. "They get a sense of team and sportsmanship, which we know always builds children's self-esteem. They get a sense of, 'I have help here. I can do better in academics,' and they do that."
The $9 million SL Green StreetSquash Center, located on 115th Street, features eight squash courts, four classrooms, a library and locker rooms.
"The past 10 years we've been kicked off of courts and have had students study in hallways," said StreetSquash Executive Director George Polsky. "And finally we have our own place where they can study in proper places and not have to worry about being kicked off of courts."
Polsky launched StreetSquash as an after-school program in 1999 with 24 kids. Currently, there are 160 participants and the new facility can serve a thousand 6th through 12th graders.
Polsky says 100 percent of students who have participated in the program graduated from high school.
"That, in the end, is the most important thing that these kids graduate from high school, go to college, and graduate from college, and go out into the world and get jobs and be productive members of society," said Polsky.
"It's really good. Everyone here is doing really well in school," said one participant.
It's not just organizers and participants that have rave reviews of the program, but parents as well.
"They stay out of trouble. They get to go on trips," said parent Denise Strong. "They get to meet other players."
For more information on the program, go to StreetSquash.org.