Cousins promoting a positive outlook to the youth in Sacramento
In 2015, more than 85,000, or 24 percent, of children in Sacramento County fell under the poverty line. To put things into perspective, all the children who fell into poverty can fill the Golden 1 Center (capacity of 17,500) nearly five times.
Being in poverty can affect children in multiple ways; sometimes the free school lunch is the only hot meal children get. Students in high-poverty have access to less resources, which ultimately can lead to lower graduation rates, less college achievements, incarceration and even death.
As a community, we have the capacity to help enrich the lives of children so that they have a higher chance of success.
DeMarcus Cousins is doing exactly that through his annual Elite Skills Basketball Camp.
Cousins’ youth basketball camp is one of the few camps that are completely free. The camp took place at Sacramento Charter High School and according to Cousins’ official website, it was for the underprivileged youth from the ages of seven through 16. In addition to it being free, VSP Global was present and provided free eye exams and glasses for the youth.
Cousins appeared to be all smiles as he walked through the rows of about 200 kids and helped them with their pivots and stance. The youth were absolutely ecstatic about having Cousins as a coach.
Towards the end of the camp, certificates were awarded and the youth had the opportunity to ask Cousins questions.
“It’s great, just the chance to see some of these kids grow up through the years,” Cousins said. “It’s fun to be a part of their life, see them grow up, interact with them throughout their life, actually hold relationships with them.”
The camp was held in Oak Park, which is a neighborhood that has a history of poverty and gang violence. When Cousins was asked about the tragic deaths that have happened in Sacramento involving youth, he gave a valuable perspective on taking a different route in life.
“This camp has also shown them that you don’t have to live that life, you don’t have to be involved in those type of activities,” Cousins said. “Those things shouldn’t be happening. I think we should all step up and try to prevent those situations from continuing to happen. I believe it’s on us, as adults, as leaders in the community.”
Cousins helped with refurbishing the Sac High gym and when asked how he felt when he looked up at the LED boards he funded, he gave a genuine answer.
“It’s not about that, it’s about helping these kids, giving them a better situation,” Cousins proudly said. “That’s all it’s about.”
To the naked eye, it appeared that the youth worked hard to sharpen their basketball skills. But in reality, the camp is much more than just basketball—it represents achievement, discipline and hope.
Our youth need more positive role models that promote healthy lifestyles and encourage them to follow their dreams.
“There’s a lot of opportunities out there and it’s about believing in yourself and going out and doing it,” Cousins said.
In a neighborhood such as Oak Park, the mentorship offered by Cousins goes a long way.