Growing up in the Parkview neighborhood of Ward 1, Ebenezer Osanyingbemi has always had a home away from home: the recreation center. “The Rec is the hub of community life in my neighborhood. It’s where I learned to play basketball at five years old; where I met most of my friends; where I go to relax. I’ve been hanging out there all my life.”
“The Rec was in bad shape: no indoor sports equipment, a bunch of broken computers, no program supplies for the younger kids, and a lopsided basketball court. I knew things had to change.”
Ebenezer decided to fight for his Rec by organizing with DC Youth Power Network (YPN), WIN’s new youth organizing initiative. “I got involved with YPN because I saw a way to make real change at Parkview. We tried for so many years to get the powerful decision-makers to help us improve the Rec, but you won’t get the respect needed by playing the game by the usual rules.” Starting in late-2009, Ebenezer and the youth leader team at Parkview stopped playing by the “usual” rules.
“We went through leadership trainings, we held big actions, knocked on doors, held tons of meetings, and brought out leaders from WIN to see the conditions at the Rec. From the organizing we ended up getting Councilmember Jim Graham to provide Parkview with new art supplies, a new pool table, eight new computers, and a commitment to reline and resurface the basketball court. When I see younger kids doing their homework at the computers that we won for the Rec, I know that I’m doing my part as a resident of my community.”