Fairfield Ledger

Mt. Pleasant News   Wash Journal
Neighbors Growing Together | Oct 22, 2017

Community basketball project in beginning stages

Aviles wishes to add outdoor court in Heritage Park
By ALLYUS FRITZ/Ledger sports editor | May 15, 2014
Courtesy of: Fairfield Community Basketball Project The before and after plan on what the new basketball court would look like at Heritage Park. The colors of the court could be anything, based on if a company wants to put its logo on the court, or if a donor wants a certain color scheme.

Jason Aviles is looking to fill a communal void.

Aviles, a soon to be graduating senior at Maharishi University of Management, is heading the Fairfield Community Basketball Project. The purpose of this project is to build an outdoor basketball court at Heritage Park on N. Ninth St. The court would be painted, have bleachers for viewing and fencing surrounding it. A new court would not only be a place to play basketball. Aviles’ mission, as it turns out, is more complicated.

Aviles grew up in the Bronx borough of New York City. He would eventually become a youth counselor and work for seven years with troubled youth in schools and detention centers throughout New York and Delaware. He noticed a void in the educational system during his work.

“A lot of the kids’ behavior issues stemmed from a lack of life skills, morals, values and a guided direction,” Aviles said. “None of these establishments had anything in place to attack these problems. Their sole focus was on academics.”

While growing up, basketball represented a way to interact and learn valuable life skills in an environment that Aviles describes as having “little to few role models.” People were able to transcend their differences and have fun with one another through the sport. Aviles thinks a new court could have just as strong of an impact in Fairfield.

On what some would call a spiritual search, he left his job and home to come to Fairfield and attend M.U.M. One thing he would notice immediately about Fairfield is the lack of outdoor basketball courts, especially on the north side of town.

“I felt this was a part of the community that in some way has been underserved and neglected,” Aviles said. “I know what that feels like.”

Obviously this issue is on a smaller scale in Fairfield than in New York City, but he doesn’t want this Fairfield neighborhood to fall into despair like the one he grew up in. Aviles believes a basketball court could breath new life to the north side of town, while also bringing those who practice transcendental meditation together with the rest of the community. The power of sport could have the same impact here as it did in the Bronx.

“When I came here there was a really strong identity in the M.U.M community, and then the rest of town, and there was a gap between the two, especially with youth,” said Aviles. “The youth from the MSAE setting and the Fairfield [High School] setting didn’t really mingle as much we did, even if we were from different boroughs.”

Aviles and his team have already spoken to Mayor Ed Malloy, Derik Wulfekuhle at Fairfield Parks and Recreation, and FHS Superintendent Art Sathoff about the project.

“As a person who spent many hours on the outdoor basketball courts of my hometown when I was growing up and an educator who understands the importance of children having positive activities to engage in within the community, I am thankful that Mr. Aviles is undertaking this project,” said Sathoff.

The plan is for the court to be fully equipped with lights and the other amenities mentioned above. Intermural basketball leagues and youth leagues are a possibility as well. The court would certainly be used for more than just pick-up games.

With a new skate part being built across town, building on the location of the current skate park in Heritage Park likely will not be an issue. Currently, Aviles and his team are estimating the project will cost $24,000. They are currently in the fledging stage of speaking to businesses and trying to find funding.

“I have an amazing team of M.U.M students who are really dedicated to making this project happen,” Aviles said.

Aviles and his team can be contacted by email at fairfieldcommunityproject@gmail.com.

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