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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

11/27/23 pdf
November 27, 2023

Tip-Off Time For CPCS & Harbor Point

New hoops will be erected at the McCormack Middle School, adjacent to Harbor Point. Photo courtesy of sxc.hu
New hoops will be erected at the McCormack Middle School, adjacent to Harbor Point. Photo courtesy of sxc.hu

Didn’t make it to the NBA playoffs? Don’t sweat it. You’ll have a chance to show your skills on the court this weekend when Harbor Point’s youth program completes their collaborative effort with UMass Boston and Boston-based City Year, a member of Americorps, to build neighborhood basketball courts.

Work will be completed this Friday when a group of 1,000 City Year volunteers come to the Dorchester neighborhood on May 5 to finish construction on the Harbor Point courts.

Work on the courts was the result of a class from the College of Public and Community Service called the Healthy Initiative Collaborative-Community University Program (HICCUP), which has teamed up with the Harbor Point youth since 2002 to build the basketball courts. In that time, youth members from the Dorchester community have met with CPCS students from the class every Wednesday at the Walter Denney Youth Center and the Geiger Gibson Community Health Center.

“The youth really feel like they own this,” said associate professor Joan Arches, founder and professor of the HICCUP program.

Arches and HICCUP began by working with fifteen youth volunteers in the Harbor Point community. Today, a class of 12 UMass Boston students are helping as many as 30 children between the ages of 10 and 18 to build their community basketball court.

Arches initially faced a lot of obstacles for approval of the courts, but she says that it will all pay off for the kids on May 5, when 1,000 City Year volunteers will come to the Dorchester neighborhood ready to begin building during their annual Serve-A-Thon drive in Boston, which will also be held between May 4-8.

“It has been a long battle,” said Arches, who teaches community planning and human services for CPCS. “But now these kids are really excited.”

The battle began in its initial year, when HICCUP conducted surveys and decided to build the courts on Harbor Point’s rarely utilized tennis courts. The students brought a 400 signature petition, as well the proposal itself, to the Tenant’s Task Force, Harbor Point’s management, who denied the request outright.

But two years ago, Arches and her class located another spot for the courts at the John W. McCormack Middle School, right across from Harbor Point on Mt. Vernon St. In order to get McCormack to sign off on the idea, the HICCUP youth went around getting 400 more signatures for the petition, as well as holding bake sales and car washes, and even writing to Mayor Menino for support.

The HICCUP class meets every Wednesday between 5-7 p.m. to discuss theories for community development, after which time they head over to the Denney and Gibson Centers, where they meet and talk with Dorchester youth until 8:30 p.m.

When Arches began the class five years ago, she had the class look at what needed to be done to improve the community within Harbor Point. The primary concern was a lack of recreation sites in the area for the Harbor Point youth. Two other areas of concern for HICCUP were instances of harassment by security as well as the presence of trash and garbage within the development.

Now that the Harbor Point youth will unveil courts at McCormack Middle School, Arches prepares for more long-term projects to improve the waste and security situations within the Harbor Point community.