NEW YORK –It’s a difference that means the world to 16-year-old Austin.
“I feel happy, I just I see all the work that they went through and I actually see the difference”
“They’re noticing that we’re going to mean something,” he said.
A show of support and boost of confidence he gets from this brand new, refurbished gym at his school.
“The roof was leaking, the lights were coming down a little,” Austin described. “But now when I see it, it’s much better, they fixed the roof, there’s new lights, new floor and new hoops.”
A much needed transformation at the SCO Family of Services Residential Facility in Briarwood, Queens.
“This program services young men and women who have a serious emotional disturbance and moderate developmental disability,” Rosemary Stein, chief program officer at SCO, explained.
Today, the gym was officially unveiled by the organization who made it all happen, the Garden of Dreams Foundation along with its partners at Madison Square Garden and some faces you may recognize.
“I’m looking forward to getting autographs,” Austin laughed. “I’m [also] looking forward to thanking them.”
The Knicks’ Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis, the Rangers’ Henrik Lundqvist, the Liberty’s Swin Cash and others came out to be part of the excitement.
“I grew up playing outside so this is totally different,” Carmelo Anthony laughed. “Anytime you can just build a facility like this and give back to the kids and the community, it gives them the chance to own it, this is theirs!”
“To give them this opportunity of a brand new gymnasium, and for them to unite with sports, I think it’s so important,” Henrik Lundqvist said.
“I always love to give back and seeing those kids smile and be really excited, it’s a good feeling inside,” Kristaps Porzingis added.
“You’re not only giving them the facility to participate but you’re also creating a safe haven for them,” Swin Cash said. “I feel these kids, not because they’re special needs, but because they’re just kids and we want them to thrive and flourish and I think a facility like this will do that.”
For Austin, he knows he’s got a lot of growing to do, his own transformation if you will, but he’s making the most of his situation by volunteering as the team’s scorekeeper. And he believes this new gym will be a catalyst for that change.
“The opportunity for us is we can have more fun and we can actually learn more about what we can do,” Austin said. “I came here to help me and just get out of here and go home and hopefully have a good life.”
Produced by: Kim Pestalozzi