By Caroline Gordon
FRAMINGHAM – Two years ago, the back boards of the Hoops and Homework basketball courts were taken down as the gyms became vacant because kids were sent home to quarantine with their families, due to the COVID pandemic.
Hoops and Homework is an afterschool program for kids ages 5-14 where they engage in physical activities and academic enrichment time. The program is located at the Framingham Housing Authority’s site at Carlson and Pusan roads and Cochituate Homes’ site at Interfaith Terrace.
Kevin Lopez, program director, who has worked for Hoops and Homework for a year, said pre-pandemic, the organization offered their traditional afterschool program from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Lopez said the pandemic disrupted the kids’ schedules as they were used to attending the afterschool program in-person, where they would would receive a meal provided by the YMCA, do homework, then play outside.
The kids met virtually during the lockdown, but their social engagement “took a hit” due to not meeting in-person, said Lopez.
The day restrictions were lifted and the kids met again in person was “like Christmas”as they were “beside themselves,” he said.
Since the kids have been back in-person, Hoops and Homework has stuck to the traditional schedule they followed pre-pandemic.
“We still focus on homework enrichment, academic enrichment, reading assistance, etc. That’s our bread and butter,” Lopez said.
Due to the pandemic, enrollment declined, but now, at one site, enrollment has doubled from eight kids to 16 kids and at the other site, enrollment increased from seven kids to 13 kids, said Lopez.
Current activities offered such as, Tuesday yoga, a climate change program, and piano lessons.
Lopez added that not only has the organization expanded their types of programming, they have expanded the days they offer programming – now, Saturday programs are offered to kids. He explained that more kids are welcomed to joined the program, not just those who live near the sites.
“We’re going outside the properties of this community – not just Interfaith Cochituate homes, or
Carlson or Pusan Rd. We are offering the program to Beaver, Taralli Terrace, to Marian Road to Arlington Street – you name it. We’re trying to expand because we feel itis important for the social and emotional aspects of children’s lives,” Lopez said.
On Saturday, April 9 there is a fundraiser for the Team Framingham runners supporting Hoops & Homework at Exhibit ‘A’ Brewing Company on Morton Street. Seven Team Framingham runners chose to raise money for the Framingham program while also training for and planning to run the 2022 Boston Marathon on Monday, April 18.
The public can support those runners and Hoops & Homework by attending the fundraiser. Tickets are $20. The event is from 3 to 6 p.m.
Caroline Gordon, a spring 2021 SOURCE intern is a senior English major with a concentration in journalism at Framingham State University. Gordon is the Arts and Features editor for Framingham State’s student newspaper, The Gatepost. Connect with Caroline on LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/caroline-gordon98