Featured image: Shaun Jayachandran, founder of Crossover, working on crossovers with girls from Vidyaniketan School in Chennai. Picture credit: Rob Hammer
Did you hear about the rose that grew from a crack
in the concrete
Proving nature's laws wrong it learned 2 walk
without having feet
Funny it seems, but by keeping its dreams
it learned 2 breathe fresh air
Long live the rose that grew from concrete
when no one else even cared!
If there was ever a poem that captured the love and passion from Crossover Basketball and Scholars Academy, aka Crossover, this idea from Tupac stands the test of time. Because at the end of each of our very busy days, we step over the cracks in the concrete and continue to walk not thinking anything of its function or use.
But what if I told you that a bouncing rubber ball and a rim can forever change the direction of children’s lives without them ever becoming a pro-athlete?
Our Mission: Crossover Basketball and Scholars Academy is a non-profit organization impacting gender equity and education rates in India for undeserved marginalized communities while using basketball as our vehicle of change. We achieve this with both a three-week summer program and a year-round initiative that emphasizes leadership, gender equity, character, teamwork, and communication, taking these lessons and applying them to each child’s community, classroom, and family.
The concept of Crossover started from a unique space of having coached dozens of players who went on to compete at the US college level, the lessons of John Wooden taught to me by my coach Bill Sweek (who played for Wooden at UCLA), applying a Masters in Educational Leadership, and trying to understand how my mom could be born and raised in an orphanage in Chennai and get out. How does an orphan or marginalized girl in India, even now, make it to a place to even immigrate to Canada and have a middle class life?
So how does it work?
Crossover isn’t the next Million Dollar Arm or or One in a Billion or even Cool Runnings - it’s simply not about finding the next kid to make people rich but about an expansive platform that allows lessons to take root in communities, schools, and families. We combine connecting with children as mentors and then apply a pillar a day (leadership, gender equity, character, teamwork, or communication) to stations focused on individual skills, team skills, yoga/conditioning, and a classroom session.
But WHY does it work?
Let’s be honest - hoops in South Asia never sounded like the solution to anything ever before. But it works because it is effective on multiple levels.
Basketball is a known enough sport to exist but not at all commonly played. And since it’s not cricket, soccer, or kabadi - that means girls can actually start on a level-playing field for one of the few times in their lives. Since everyone is learning skills at the same time, girls are able to participate without starting off behind a population that has already been allowed to play for years ahead of time. It also means that boys are able to visually see the meaning behind the lectures sharing the importance and strength of girls. And that’s powerful.
Basketball requires a rubber ball that bounces and a hoop. That’s it. The rest can be figured out around that.
Teaching lessons centered around Growth Mindset - leadership, gender equity, character, teamwork, and communication - means that a focus on translatable skills back to the community, classroom, and families allows for critical thinking to be the norm. Teaching through play changes the game - from strictly academics in families that are constantly struggle to make ends meet to providing scholars with people who actively want to teach them how to play a game with rules and ideas.
So What’s Next?
Crossover has a lot planned for 2019 - with programs scheduled for Delhi at the end of March and Chennai for the first two weeks of July. Additionally, with the NBA hosting a pre-season game in Mumbai in October, we will be looking to find a way to create some events surrounding the game.
We have also just picked up the endorsements of UN Women, WNBA Players Association, and the High Commission of Canada in India to help us further our impact.
Oh - and we’ve been doing all this with zero paid employees up until this point and on a budget of less than $43,000 per year.
To check out a bit more about what we do:
The Crossover Experience - https://vimeo.com/133364037
Shaun’s TEDx - https://youtu.be/MmM4R6qcWvY
Website - www.crossover-india.org
And if you want to help us create a few more cracks in the concrete and grow more roses - you can click here to apply to volunteer - http://crossover-india.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/2018-19-Crossover-Application.pdf
or here to donate- https://donatenow.networkforgood.org/crossover