Sports

Taking kids ‘Beyond the Ball’

Robert Castaneda who runs Beyond the Ball, a program that helps children in gang neighborhoods learn through sports, talks to youth. Photo by Katherine Iorio

Robert Castaneda who runs Beyond the Ball, a program that helps children in gang neighborhoods learn through sports, talks to youth. Photo by Katherine Iorio

A choice had to be made in 1999 for Robert Castaneda whether to stay in Chicago’s South Lawndale or seek a safer place for his family to live. The Latin Kings in Little Village wanted to kill Robert and Amy Castaneda.

“They found out that we were calling the police on them when they’d be in front of our house shooting or throwing bottles into cars,” Rob Castaneda explained.

The Castaneda’s home was set on fire twice and a bottle was thrown through their window as a young man shouted “Die, mother——-. Die!”

“Our first reaction was, ‘This is crazy, let’s get out of here,’” explained Castaneda. “When you’re going through that experience, the easy decision was to stay; the much harder decision was now that we’re going to be here, what are we going to do?”

In 2005, there were 250 kids in the neighborhood that Rob and Amy Castaneda were working with on a regular basis through basketball, art and experience trips called Beyond the Ball.

“Even then we were not trying to be a program,” said Castaneda. “We were more or less working with kids because that’s what we enjoyed doing.”

Read more at Beyond the Game.

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