Several Wilton High School students are very involved with Full Court Peace, a service organization that uses basketball to unite people of different ethnic backgrounds, races, and socio-economic status. Started in 2009 by Mike Evans, a former varsity basketball coach for New Canaan High School, the program focuses on bringing local and global communities together to foster education, improve health and welfare, and unite populations, through the sport.

In past years, Full Court Peace has worked internationally with Protestant and Catholic youth in Belfast, Ireland; in Juarez, Mexico with youth affected by drug violence; and most recently in Havana, Cuba by organizing Basketball Ambassador Trips to build grassroots relationships between Cubans and Americans. In the last two years, many of the WHS Full Court Peace club members have traveled to Cuba as FCP volunteers, working with local residents to refurbish dilapidated basketball courts, and playing together in FCP-sponsored tournaments and leagues.

Full Court Peace also works here at home in Fairfield County, uniting a racially and economically diverse array of boys and girls in grades 4-8 through youth basketball leagues and camps. Team basketball is utilized as a means of increasing communication, understanding and camaraderie among these youth, in an effort to help bridge the income and education gaps in a place where they are at their widest nationally.

WHS junior Liam Gany, one of the founders of the Wilton High School FCP chapter, recently wrote a blog post that was just published in a new series FCP is running on its website. FCP calls Gany “…one of the standout students who take part in giving back to their schools, communities, areas and each other through basketball, thanks to being a member of one of our Full Court Peace high school clubs,” (which, in addition to Wilton, includes New Canaan, Weston, Staples (Westport), Danbury (Wooster) and Ridgefield).

Below is Gany’s blog entry. He’s pictured above standing in the center with his fellow WHS students and FCP club members (L-R) Nick Kronenberg (soph.), Matt Olson (junior), Gany (junior), Lucas Reznikoff (junior) and Kyle Maatallah (junior).

“Full Court Peace is having more and more of an impact in my life. I started the Wilton chapter of Full Court Peace with my friend, Lucas Reznikoff, and since last year the club has taken off. We’ve done some pretty amazing things in our town, around Connecticut and even Cuba, in just a short amount of time.

“What really got me started with FCP was my trip two summers ago to help with refurbishing basketball courts in Cuba. Although the flight terrorized me I made it through the trip, which became an eye-opening experience for me and one that I will never forget. In Cuba, FCP helped build and repair courts and play games against Cuban teams. I soaked it all up and am thankful I did.

Going to a different country and seeing how basketball can affect the community is really something amazing, but what I found even more transforming was being able to impact people in a positive way so close to home through our work around Fairfield County and Connecticut. We recently visited Danbury and restored the Danbury PAL Court. It was a real honor.

It puts a smile on my face knowing that I was able to help a community just 20 minutes away and with Cuba around 1567 miles away. I can’t wait to see what the future has in store for me and where FCP goes next.”

Liam Gany (Full Court Peace High School Club, Wilton High School)

To find out more about Full Court Peace, and how to get involved, follow FCP on Twitter and Facebook.