Our Mission


Together, we place social awareness and advocacy at center court.

Young Athletes 4 Change utilizes the game of basketball as a container to unpack and dismantle systems of social injustice. Our empowerment campaigns and events emphasize positive change through dynamic athletic platforms.

The basketball events, educational workshops and advocacy campaigns that make up Young Athletes 4 Change come from a combined work history motivated to understand how the next generation of young athletes and activists can access creative platforms to foster identity, develop a leadership mindset and generate an active culture. Young Athletes 4 Change aims to effectively execute program structures and provide spaces and moments where these creative platforms can thrive. 

The fundamentals of the game of basketball create a framework within which we create community. Our mobile workshops couple educational devices with athletic skill training to discuss, understand and bring awareness to issues rooted in systematic injustice that most impact our youth. We learn from one another by utilizing techniques aimed at promoting positive self-identity and establishing collective goals. Some examples of the workshop themes are: “Explosive Movements and Knowing your Rights”, “Team Building at the Basket and Unpacking Privilege” and “Occupying Space at the Free Throw Line".

Let’s cultivate the power of sports + community building.

 

Meet the Team


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Wilner Popie Joseph
Co-Founder

Wilner is an active community advocate and positive change agent for the city of Stamford, Connecticut. His history can be measured by over fifteen years of coordination and leadership for organized youth programming. This work is coupled with his citywide impact as a basketball coach and mentor for thousands of young people - specifically youth who experience developmental, cognitive or emotional challenges. In 2018, his greatest project to date, Hoops4All, transformed into Young Athletes 4 Change, a fully thriving non-profit organization that facilitates programs and events where social justice, activism and awareness streamline with basketball skill training and performance. In 2017, Hoops4All was honored as “Non-Profit of the Night” by NBA’s Brooklyn Nets.
Wilner believes that through empowering the connection between sports and civic engagement, we can collectively support our future generations. This work fuels the opportunities needed lasting change. His current participation in neighborhood planning events and panels focused on gun violence awareness has further amplified his influential voice. Wilner’s community network is truly his greatest asset and he is motivated to proudly represent the voice of the youth of his city.


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Kaela Francesca
Co-Founder

Kaela is an educator, organizer, advocate and multidisciplinary performance artist by way of New York City and the Bay Area. Her background is rooted in coordination and facilitation of community-based programs and events that empower young people through art and activism. Her past projects and work history include performing arts administration and education for the Young Artists at Work Program at San Francisco's Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, where she worked to devise a parallel curriculum between high schooled aged youth and currently incarcerated individuals from San Bruno County Jail. Kaela also served in program coordination for Horizons Leadership Project of Brooklyn, NY where she led Restorative Justice workshops through poetry, dance and media. She has performed with dance companies, hip hop artists and performance projects across stages and spaces throughout San Francisco, NYC, Miami, Argentina and Peru. Currently, Kaela lends her experiences to the youth community of Stamford, CT as the Executive Director of Young Athletes 4 Change. Since April of 2017, she has creatively reshaped the organization to streamline social justice discourse and basketball athletics, establishing the Young Athletes 4 Change initiative. Kaela spreads a contagious quest for understanding how young leaders can achieve large spectrum awareness, bring light to injustice and organize the movement towards positive, lasting change. 
 


THANK YOU TO OUR EVENT SPONSORS

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