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Low-Income Sports Program Unites Community

By Kelly Church

The All Dorchester Sports League (ADSL) is a youth sports league run by Executive Director Candice Gartley with a lofty mission: "to provide low-income youth with the necessary resources to become happy, healthy, thriving adults." In Dorchester, MA and surrounding areas, racial issues are and have been prevalent for years. According to Xavier Savage, Program Director for ADSL, the purpose of the program is to unite the youth of the community to put an end to racial hatred.

"The main goal of ADSL is to bring together kids from all over Dorchester (and from all over Boston) through sport," Savage says. "Dorchester is historically a very diverse area of Boston, and back when ADSL opened in 1983, there was a lot of racial tension. The idea of ADSL was to bring the children of Dorchester together as teammates rather than allowing prejudice and strife to develop. Today, ADSL maintains this goal of unity and offers the youth of Dorchester a productive way to spend their free time."

Programs through ADSL include baseball (T-ball, wood-bat league, and city-wide league;) softball (clinic division, instructional division and junior division;) basketball (club division, cougar division and the advanced division;) Fit Kitchen, which teaches cooking nutritiously; basic gym exercise; and educational programs that focus on tutoring and homework help.

"Through a variety of program offerings, we teach our participants skills to become happy, healthy adults and deter them from becoming involved in negative activities, which are a real issue in Dorchester, an area prone to gang activity and violence," says Savage.

ADSL also has numerous new programs opening up during this school year, giving kids more opportunities to get involved and get to know their neighbors and peers. They are establishing clinics for student athletes to get help academically and physically during the off-season of their sport. They are building new opportunities for competitive games for their basketball team. ADSL has a newly renovated field, which is allowing them to start a volleyball program.

Savage says without the support of the community, ADSL wouldn't be open. Local residents and businesses support the youth programs and facilities both emotionally and financially, hosting events and fundraisers that keep the lights on. All the support is not lost on Savage, who says there is a visible impact that ADSL is having on the community.

"The most rewarding part of working at ADSL is being able to see the impact that our services have on the community," Savage says. "We serve a lot of amazing kids through our programs and it's amazing to get to know them when they're with us. We are all so happy to be able to offer these kids opportunities and support that many low-income families aren't able to receive. We hope to see this change, to see all kids have the same opportunities, and we're so thrilled to be working toward that goal."

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