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Local group seeks to empower girls in Uganda

By AMY PARTAIN
10/16/2020 | Comments

COLORADO SPRINGS. When the perfect combination of ideas, connections, and desire to serve come together it can have a positive effect on the world. Such was the case this year when a group of local Colorado Springs college and high school athletes formed the Crossover for Change Foundation with a mission to make a difference in the lives of girls in Uganda.

The idea started with a group of friends, many of whom have known each other since playing together on a soccer team in the first grade. The friends, all athletes, were interested in finding a way to give back what the sports experience has given them. So when one of their dads mentioned an opportunity to work with girls attending boarding schools in Uganda, the friends felt they had found their calling. He put them in contact with a coach in Uganda and the foundation was born.

The seven friends got the foundation started by holding meetings over Zoom during the quarantine earlier this year. The group feels that sports, in general, bring people together and provide a sense of belonging, something they hope Crossover for Change basketball camps will encourage in Uganda.

“When I was playing basketball at St. Mary’s, I felt empowered by the community surrounding me,” said Josephine Howery, a 2020 graduate of St. Mary’s High School. “I had confidence in what the team was and what we stood for. Women need community and a sense of belonging and we hope we can help foster that for the girls in Uganda.”

Howery said the faith-based teachings instilled by her years of Catholic education influenced her desire to get involved in a group that would be giving back in some way. She attended Divine Redeemer Catholic School for kindergarten through eighth grade and then continued at St. Mary’s High School, where she was a member of the two-time state championship girls basketball team.

“My Catholic education emphasized living out your purpose and living it out through service to others,” she said. “The community service and volunteering done through school was helpful in showing me that I need to use my talents to serve others.”

Crossover For Change plans to host two basketball camps in the summer of 2021, one at Maryhill High School in Mbarre and the other at Immaculate Heart Girls School in Nyakibale. The foundation has raised funds to begin construction on a basketball court at the Immaculate Heart Girls School, which will be used for both camps.

The foundation is currently raising money to fund the camp activities and complete the basketball court. To that end, they are hosting a virtual Spooky Season 5K Oct. 30-Nov. 1. All proceeds from the event will go toward Crossover for Change’s activities in Uganda. For more information, visit their website at crossoverforchange.org.

Hosting next summer’s camps are the short-term goal of the foundation, Howery said, chosen as a way to teach the girls the fundamentals of basketball while helping them to build confidence and help show them their purpose in the world. The long-term goal is to host camps each year and get more people and groups involved in supporting the mission of the foundation.

“The more people involved, the more potential we have to help the girls in Uganda build confidence and feel empowered,” Howery, who is now a freshman at Colorado School of Mines, said. “Everyone has a purpose in this world and we believe that women should have the same opportunities as men. We hope that a sense of empowerment is something we can help give the girls.”

The board of directors for Crossover for Change is made up of seven young Colorado Springs women. Three of them are currently high school students, including St. Mary’s High School sophomore Cameron Richter. The other four, including Howery, are 2020 graduates from Colorado Springs area high schools. Dennis Katungye, a teacher and basketball coach at Maryhill High School, serves as vice chair of Crossover For Change and has helped the board formulate their plans based on the needs of the Ugandan students and schools.

Howery has years of experience with basketball camps, both as a participant and helping run camps hosted by St. Mary’s High School. She said she enjoys interacting with the younger players, but never expected to be able to give back to someone half a world away.

“I grew up looking up to the girls who help run the camps I participated in and it’s been fun to be that for younger girls,” she said. “Now it is amazing to think about helping girls across the world who share a passion for basketball and encourage them to become strong young women.”

(Amy G. Partain is director of communications for St. Mary’s High School.)


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