Helen Macpherson Smith Trust

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Case Study: Helping Hoops Inc.

ProjectHelping Hoops Fitzroy




This grant was approved under our previous grants policy
Building capacity Engage and retain migrant and refugee children and youth in education. Connect their families to welfare and community programs and develop social networks.
Extending opportunity Provide free access to a structured social and support network for disadvantaged youth and their families.
Collaboration and partnership Establish partnerships with local government, police and other organisations.

Vulnerable kids get right on the ball with Helping Hoops

Operating with a tiny budget, a large amount of goodwill and very effective partnerships, the independent Melbourne charity Helping Hoops operates a free weekly basketball program for refugee children at the Atherton Gardens public housing estate in Fitzroy. Basketball skills are taught in a fun atmosphere, and the program helps develop a range of life skills and connections for vulnerable children and their families.

While Helping Hoops Inc has been running free weekly indoor basketball programs for disadvantaged children since 2010, the Helping Hoops Fitzroy project was the first to be established outdoors on a public housing estate.

“We were invited to launch the program by the Fitzroy Police Youth Resource Officers,” says Helping Hoops Executive Director, Adam McKay.  “The challenges of this open housing estate were big, but the potential was also incredibly exciting.”

A former professional basketball player and fully accredited coach was appointed to run two one-hour sessions each week, assisted by up to four Fitzroy police and elders of the African-Australian community.

Project aims

In addition to developing basketball skills in children aged eight to 15, aims were to:

  • Build self-esteem
  • Develop leadership, discipline and teamwork skills
  • Teach respect of self, team mates and officials
  • Build trust
  • Promote social inclusion
  • Provide exercise and promote an active lifestyle.

Regular contact with the core group of around 20 children means Helping Hoops has become a positive influence on and off the basketball court, and ensures children’s and families’ needs are being met in welfare, social services and education.

Other key outcomes including staging a Helping Hoops Fitzroy Tournament, attendance at Melbourne Tigers basketball games, reducing cultural resistance to girls’ participation in sports and a new collaboration with an arts program so children can create personal artworks on their basketball court.

Helping Hoops Fitzroy has provided a template for expansion into other public housing estates, with Richmond already established and programs planned for Collingwood and Flemington.


“We were invited to launch the program by the Fitzroy Police Youth Resource Officers,” says Helping Hoops Executive Director, Adam McKay.