Known as the “Ambassadors of Goodwill,” the Harlem Globetrotters have combined an entertaining style of basketball with a broader community service mission for over 85 years.
The Globetrotters brought their goodwill to Brooklyn on Sept. 18 by visiting Bishop Ford H.S., Park Slope, for an anti-bullying and violence prevention assembly. This event marked the first visit to Brooklyn in the team’s famed history, in which the Globetrotters have visited more than 120 countries and territories and performed for nearly 140 million fans.
The program, The ABCs of Bullying Prevention, debuted in front of over 400 young people: the Bishop Ford Class of 2016, children from Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens (CCBQ) Out of School Time program and students from St. Joseph the Worker Catholic Academy, Park Slope.
Through showcasing his basketball skills and a little humor, Globetrotter Anthony “Buckets” Blakes, an 11-year veteran, engaged the audience through skits portraying the message of anti-bullying and violence prevention. He helped design the program in coordination with the National Campaign to Stop Violence, a nonprofit organization that works with middle-school students to explore non-confrontational actions to reduce violence.
Blakes taught students the importance of using the “ABC” tools to reduce bullying and prevent violence: Action, Bravery and Compassion.
“It’s very important for me as a Harlem Globetrotter to spread this anti-bullying message,” said Blakes, who earned his nickname “Buckets” for his ability to score baskets in rapid succession. “Not only are we the ‘Ambassadors of Goodwill,’ but we also feel like we have some sort of influence over the kids in a positive manner. They love what we do with the basketball on the court, but they get a chance to see us and interact with us when we come to their schools and talk about the ABCs of bullying.”
Blakes wanted to team up with the parochial schools in Brooklyn to continue spreading the message of anti-bullying. The children in the audience enjoyed the lighthearted aspects of the presentation, but they were also very attentive during the serious portions.
“There is so much bullying that goes on the elementary schools and in high schools and even into adulthood unfortunately,” said Gladys Rodriguez, vice president for family services for CCBQ. “To have this opportunity for a Globetrotter to speak to our children is really a wonderful opportunity for them.”
Blakes also spoke about how he was bullied as a child. By sharing these experiences, the children in attendance were able to relate to his action, bravery and courage.
“He (Blakes) got where he wanted by working for it,” said Gavin Turlow, a freshman at Bishop Ford from Bay Ridge. “Like he said, you have to work hard for anything you want to be.”
On stage, Blakes led a few volunteers in performing the Globetrotters’ famous “Magic Circle,” in which each participant completed a trick before passing the ball. All the students in attendance received an official certificate autographed by Blakes signifying they had completed the ABC program.
The Globetrotters will return to Brooklyn on Oct. 7, when they play the first-ever basketball gamet at the new Barclays Center in Downtown Brooklyn.