The City Is A Playground

Rucker Park and Reid Carpenter. What could the two possibly have in common? One, a famous outdoor basketball court in Harlem; the other, a man who founded the Leadership Foundations network. One, a place where many went to discover their jump shot; the other, where people discovered their love for their city. Well, perhaps the two share more than you might imagine as a result of Leadership Foundations work.


Rucker Park, perhaps the most famous outdoor basketball court in the world, stands as a pantheon to the basketball gods. Many who played at the park became legends in their own right for their abilities, and several have gone on to play in the NBA. It is a place that simply states, “got game, earn a name”.


On August 15th, during the Rucker Park 50th Anniversary celebration, and through LF’s partnership with the National Basketball Retired Players Association, 150 young girls and boys will be given the opportunity to gather at the famous park to meet famous basketball legends, further develop their basketball skills, be led through a leadership and character development session by Dallas Leadership Foundation staff and have the opportunity to be mentored through LF’s Global Youth Initiative.


Reid Carpenter heard Sam Shoemaker’s famous words on top of Mount Washington regarding Pittsburgh becoming as famous for God as it was for steel. Many who now run local leadership foundations do so as a result of spending time with Reid in Pittsburgh.


This month on LF’s City As Playground podcast we have the great privilege of listening to Reid recall those early days with Sam, the creation of the Pittsburgh Leadership Foundation, and how LF became a global network striving to make cities better.


So what do Rucker Park and Reid Carpenter have in common? Both have given women and men a place to shape their lives, one for basketball and the other for social and spiritual renewal of cities. Both have given experiences that push one toward greater levels of excellence, one on the hardcourt the other in the thoroughfares of cities.  In the end, both continue to remind us that the city is a playground; one of the corner of 155th and Frederick Douglass Boulevard in New York, the other in cities around the world.

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