Open Doors Streetball
At the Y, we believe everyone should have access to programs that enrich their lives and help them become healthier, happier and more connected. One way we do this is through YMCA Open Doors, an initiative that provides subsidised access to YMCA programs and services to those in the community who wouldn’t normally be able to access them.
Over the past four years, Y Streetball has supported adults experiencing homelessness or disadvantage in North Melbourne. The program runs every Tuesday and Sunday at North Melbourne Community Centre (NMCC) and gives participants a place to blow off some steam playing basketball, a shower, a filling meal and time to socialise with friends. It’s a vibrant community program that welcomes all people, regardless of their age or socio-economic background. We are proud to support this program with YMCA Open Doors funding.
Earlier this year, Y Streetball gave participants t-shirts to wear when playing basketball. With help from YMCA Gear and YMCA Open Doors, the team created a t-shirt that featured the YMCA logo and a refreshed Y Streetball logo, designed by NMCC staff member Chelsea Collins. The t-shirts are awarded to participants who have attended six or more sessions in a row. Only 60 t-shirts were made and NMCC Centre Manager Chris Harding hopes this exclusivity encourages people to regularly attend the program, which in turn provides them with a strong community support network.
“A lot of the people who come to Y Streetball are from low-socioeconomic backgrounds and part of vulnerable communities. This often leads to them turning to unhealthy and illegal coping mechanisms. We hope that by having to attend multiple sessions to get a t-shirt, it encourages people to stay in the program for longer, which then gets them away from those habits and gives them a renewed hope, outlook and sense of community,” said Chris
Y Streetball’s longest attending participants were given the t-shirts first and the effect on the wider community has been overwhelming. Participants wear their t-shirts like a badge of honour and are proud to represent the program. This pride has influenced other members of the community to want one too, resulting in more participants attending Y Streetball. Of course, the NMCC team didn’t forget Y Streetball founder Dave “Disco” Gunstone. Disco was surprised with his very own personalised polo which had “DISCO” printed on the back. This was a way to thank Disco for all his hard work running the program over the past four years.
Y Streetball has undoubtedly made a huge difference to the wider NMCC community over the years. The program even expanded to run an ‘All Abilities’ session on Tuesday mornings. During this session, participants with varying disabilities can come and play a game of basketball. Now, Disco is expanding this program to Carlton Baths.
I’m so excited to be living my dream of expanding Y Streetball. I hope by doing this, people who have a disability feel supported and empowered. I’ve got a lot going on at the moment so I’ve got some new guys to help me out with this program. I’m still involved myself, but I hope these new guys will support me and make a difference in these peoples’ lives.Y Streetball founder Dave “Disco” Gunstone
With trial sessions running over the next few months, Disco hopes to make Y Streetball “All Abilities” a regular program at Carlton Baths. To help Disco with this expansion, YMCA Open Doors funded audible basketballs, wheelchair balls and soft foam balls to ensure all participants have access to the best, most appropriate equipment.
We believe this program makes a world of difference in its participants’ lives. Without YMCA Open Doors so many of Y Streetball’s participants would still be on the streets and be on very different life paths to what they’re on today. To continue running this program and others like it in the future, we need your support.
Donate to YMCA Open Doors today and help us offer more programs and services to community groups who need it. As little as $45 can cover the court hire for a Y Streetball session. If you would like to donate to this program specifically, please select ‘North Melbourne Community Centre’ when filling out the donation form.