StreetSquash Provides Intense Tutoring for Children of Newark
Taped on the campus of NJIT, George Polsky, Founder and Executive Director of StreetSquash, located in Harlem and Newark, describes how the program provides intensive academic tutoring, mentoring and life skills through the sport of squash.
"I really love this place. If I was anywhere else, I think I'd be unhappy. The shoes course is real fun. You do something new every day and get more active and get fit. I really love it. Squash is everything to me. I'm here every single day. Squash is my life, pretty much. That is Street Squash, and the gentleman who made it possible is George Polsky, Founder and Executive Director of Street Squash. How exciting is this? Well, it's been a long long journey so it's been a terrific journey. Started in Harlem? Started in Harlem. When? 1999. Started small out of my house. Borrowed some courts. Met with some principals up in Harlem and just got the program going with another staff member and 28 kids. What was the idea? The idea was to work with children in schools that I felt needed some more support and could benefit from the extra support that we wanted to offer on academics and social services, and I thought you could ask kids to come after school and just study more, and I said any kid who's been in a classroom all day, you're not going to get many kids who want to come and sit in a classroom. Right. So, I thought, use the sport that I knew well that is a great sport. You played squash? I grew up playing squash, so I played my whole life. At Harvard? I played at Harvard. Oh, that school? That school. But here's the thing. You love squash. You had a background in social work. You were teaching. It all comes together. Correct. Correct. So, it combined everything that was of interest to me that I thought was important and I just felt that squash was a great hook. It was a sport that these kids had never heard of and started small and have grown every year. We have a $9 Million building in Harlem that we built after about 9 years of the program. It's a beautiful community center. Serves hundreds and hundreds of kids there. And you're in Newark? We started, we replicated in Newark 6 years ago and just as we began in Harlem of borrowing spaces, we used the squash... there aren't many squash courts in New Jersey, but there are some. So we used the squash courts at the Newark YMCA, the Montclair YMCA. We used actually some of the racquetball courts at NJIT. Drew University. And our vision is to build a community center in Newark just as we've done in Harlem to serve many many more kids and instead of taking them out of their community, do something terrific in their own community. Sorry for interrupting George. What..."