Staying active and engaged in team sports has been a challenge for everyone since the start of quarantine, but especially for kids. That is why the Atlanta Hawks launched Hawks at Home in June 2020.
Traditionally, the organization hosts 12 youth basketball summer camps that allow them to reach just shy of 2,000 kids in the Atlanta area. Due to COVID-19, the Hawks had to change course and adapt to the times, which resulted in an online program that has reached almost 5,000 youngsters.
“Our slogan is ‘Be True to Atlanta,’ which means we want to connect with as many families and youth around Atlanta that we can,” said Hawks vice president of basketball development Jon Babul. “The goal is to educate and to hopefully improve their physical fitness and health while also having fun. Right now, during a pandemic, if we're connecting with youth, if we're educating, if we're giving great physical fitness and kids are having fun being part of the Atlanta Hawks, we have achieved our goal.”
The most popular program is the weekly 45-minute live Zoom workout and training videos with basketball stars like Gwinnett native Brandon Goodwin. They are concluded with exclusive interactive interviews with players moderated by the Voice of the Hawks, Bob Rathbun.
Longtime donor to the Junior Hawks program, attorney Kenneth Nugent, teamed up with Hawks at Home to supply 500 basketball kits to Boys & Girls Clubs in Albany, Atlanta, Augusta and Columbus, so that kids are able to fully participate in the programming. The Hawks also individually sent out kits equipped with a basketball, pump, uniform, hat and worksheets to each kid that was already signed up for an in-person camp.
While the main focus of the program is to expose youth to the game of basketball and help to hone their skills, Hawks at Home also has also partnered with the Children’s Museum of Atlanta to provide STEM activities geared towards the science of basketball. They also have dance videos led by the Atlanta Hawks Dancers.
The next live class will be with Damian Jones on Thursday, Aug. 6 at 1 p.m. Interested athletes between the ages of 8-16 can sign up at hawks.com/hawksathome.