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Inner-city hoops gets karma boost

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From left, Bob Axworthy, head coach of the inner-city girls’ Wesmen basketball team and program director of the Jr. Wesmen Club program, Lenda Ayalew, former Jr. Wesmen player, and Samantha Globerman, director of Yoga Public. Every dollar from Yoga Public’s Karma Yoga classes for the month of August will benefit the Jr. Wesmen inner-city sports club program.

PHOTO BY STEPH CROSIER Enlarge Image

From left, Bob Axworthy, head coach of the inner-city girls’ Wesmen basketball team and program director of the Jr. Wesmen Club program, Lenda Ayalew, former Jr. Wesmen player, and Samantha Globerman, director of Yoga Public. Every dollar from Yoga Public’s Karma Yoga classes for the month of August will benefit the Jr. Wesmen inner-city sports club program. Photo Store

Looking to give your good karma a boost? Then look to Yoga Public, and their Karma Yoga classes benefitting Jr. Wesmen Club programs.

Since opening in February 2011, Yoga Public (280 Fort St.) has chosen to donate the proceeds of their daily Karma Yoga classes to a different cause each month. This August, the Jr. Wesmen will receive the profits of the classes.

"It’s a really big help to us," said Bob Axworthy, head coach of the inner-city girls’ basketball team and program director of the Jr. Wesmen Club program.

Samantha Globerman, director of Yoga Public, said they have managed to raise up to $500 per month on the classes. She said it made sense for Yoga Public to team up with the Jr. Wesmen.

"Just because the type of team that they are," said Globerman. "They’re inner-city, they don’t have as much opportunity, and so we just thought it was a really good fit."

The money raised will go toward sending the basketball team on their out-of-town tournaments. These tournaments involve trips to cities across Canada, including Edmonton and Calgary. Normally, the team raises money through private donations and selling pumpkins in the fall.

Lenda Ayalew immigrated from Ethiopia in 2005, and played for the Jr. Wesmen for five years. At 19 years old, she is no longer eligible to play in the program.

Initially Ayalew and her family lived in downtown Winnipeg before recently moving to the Maples. She said without fundraising and donations, she definitely would not have been able to play.

"If we don’t fundraise there’s no way, because the kid’s parents are newcomers to Canada," said Ayalew. "One, there can be a language barrier. They can’t really understand that we need money for the kids to do what they want to do."

Ayalew, who is starting her business studies at University of Winnipeg this fall, knows she wouldn’t be where she is today without playing in the Jr. Wesmen program.  

"Kids that I know, I saw them grow up in a bad way," said Ayalew. "They end up getting in trouble, and for example girls would get pregnant because at a certain age they get raped. There are people my age with not one child but two or three children. I’m just shocked. My eyes pop out of my head."

Ayalew said she wouldn’t even have been able to start playing without Axworthy’s generosity because most club teams require a fee.

"For him to just accept you with no doubting and no asking for a fee or anything, it’s a big thing for new kids to come in and play," said Ayalew. "It’s more fun for them, it’s a good experience for them, and throughout they may get a scholarship at the end of the day."  

Axworthy said education is a big part of the program.

"We don’t lose sight of the education," said Axworthy. "The inner-city Wesmen project is there to help people have the same opportunities as any other kid."

Globerman is expecting all the players, parents, and friends of the teams to attend the classes. She even expects 59-year-old Axworthy to make his way in.

"We just ask that they tell their team, they come in together, and they tell their friends and family to come," said Globerman. "It just gives them an opportunity to do everything together and then they get the word out as well."

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