While many NYC residents enjoy well-managed parks in their neighborhoods, others are left with basketball courts that lack nets, lighting, or proper maintenance. In many cases, these courts are part of the fabric of the community and one of a few ways for kids and families to enjoy nearby fun and recreation.
Jacqueline Farnsworth ’23 and Ethan Pon ’23, two members of Dalton’s basketball programs, reached out to the NYC Parks Department with an idea on how to create a more equitable playing experience for everyone.
“We recently had a conversation about how frustrating it is to play basketball on a hoop without a net,” commented Jacqueline. “We decided that every basketball court in America should have a basket with a net. Starting with NYC!“
Other high schoolers joined Jacqueline and Ethan to help with the service project, Campaign Swish, as they assembled new nets, swept courts, and picked up trash in several local basketball courts, including at 104th and Amsterdam, 108th and Columbus, 95th and Lexington, and 86th and East End. The group plans to continue the project and expand to courts in other NYC boroughs to ensure everyone has equal access to play ball.
“This project supports the New York City community because we are reaching out and helping others improve their basketball experience,” said Jacqueline. “Basketball courts and parks are where various communities gather to interact and socialize, and these gatherings are a priority for mental and physical health during these unprecedented times. We want to support as many different neighborhoods as possible, as reaching out to people with different backgrounds is extremely important and will teach us a lot.”
"To me, Campaign Swish exemplifies the incredible potential of community service at Dalton,” said Community Service Coordinator Doug Berns. “Students followed their passion for basketball and took direct action to spread the joy and community-building nature of the game. I look forward to helping the project grow and to helping other students follow suit in letting their areas of interest and expertise fuel their community service."
As the sun began to set while students finished the courts, local neighborhood children watched with curiosity and anticipation. Seconds after the new hoops were up, the smiling kids ran to test out the new court with layups, jump shots, and a few failed dunk attempts.
When asked what they thought of the new court, two neighborhood children talked about how great it was since they use the court almost every day after school—though there were some arguments over who’s scored the most all-time points on the hoop. Another park-goer commented on how nice it is to now be able to hear his shots go in.
“It just makes the game so much better. It makes me feel better.”
It goes to show there’s a lot of magic in the sweet sound of a swish.