The way in which the Covid-19 pandemic has ravaged through America--hitting low-income communities and people of color at a disproportionate rate--is yet another reminder of the need for organizations like CitySquash. We have been fighting the inequities in our communities for the past 18 years, but never have they been felt as strongly as in 2020. Bronx unemployment has been reported to be as high as 41%. The majority of CitySquash students are unable to attend any in-person schooling. Our families live with fear and stress. And for good reason. They are more likely to become homeless, to die of Covid-19, and to have their children fall so far behind that they become more likely to drop out of school. Yet our CitySquash team members persist.
- Since March, CitySquashers have attended multiple academic sessions each week. They are a mix of small group classes led by CitySquash staff and individual tutoring sessions from a dedicated cohort of volunteers.
- Students remain as focused as ever on their long-term goals. All of our high school graduates earned college acceptances in the spring. Half of this year's senior class has submitted Early Decision college applications and the rest of the class is nearly finished with their applications as well.
- Team members are staying fit and mentally sharp through weekly fitness and yoga sessions, and squash-specific video analysis.
- Students and families have embraced additional layers of support offered through group meditation, professional counseling services, food distributions, and parent support groups.
A true example of persistence that we admire on a regular basis are the CitySquash alumni. This year, over Zoom, we formed an Alumni Board to help us reflect on the way we serve our students and to look towards the future of the organization. Our oldest students are nearing the age of 30. They are a wonderful mix of educators, healthcare workers, corporate executives, scientists, and coaches. They embody the diversity and resilience that we cherish in our community and we are honored to have their wisdom and guidance.
Thank you for your support in this unprecedented year--a year in which the CitySquashers played less squash than usual, but put to use the effort, vision, gratitude, and teamwork that are the foundation of our character education program. When we can finally gather in the classroom and on the court again, we will be a stronger team.
Wishing you a safe and happy holiday,