The ninth annual P.R.O.M.I.S.E. basketball camp continues to teach children the value of camaraderie.

Story and photo by Amanda Andrews

The Northside organization P.R.O.M.I.S.E. (Protecting and Restoring the Order of Mankind with the Initiative of Serving Elders) hosted their ninth annual free, three-day basketball camp for girls and boys ages eight to 18 on June 24, 25 and 26. The event ran each day from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at A Giving Heart Community Center in Allentown.

Normally, the camp is held at a high school in the Northside like Perry North High School or Oliver High School, the alma mater of the camp’s organizer, professional basketball player Jakim Donaldson. Donaldson played most recently for the Hapoel Be’er Sheva basketball club of the Israeli Premier League. This year construction projects made the change in location necessary.

One of the main goals for Donaldson and P.R.O.M.I.S.E. is to teach the participants values through basketball:

“By getting the kids coming here and doing something structured, [we build] camaraderie and togetherness,” he said. “Year after year, we’ve seen a lot of kids coming here with negative attitudes. After three days, they improve.”

Donaldson added, “It’s amazing. Just seeing the …excitement and joy on their faces.”

Donaldson’s father, Jay Donaldson, is the founder of the event and organization. Nine years ago, Jay Donaldson encouraged his son to give back to the community. Jakim Donaldson’s P.R.O.M.I.S.E. basketball camp now impacts dozens of Northside children each year. Jay Donaldson explained the importance of basketball in conveying the P.R.O.M.I.S.E. message:

“Basketball is a thought game. You don’t just dribble back and forth across the court. We try to incorporate that—that science, terminology, ideology,” said Jay Donaldson . “It’s about being peaceful, listening to your mom and dad, respecting your elders… giving 110 percent.”

Coaches at the camp inspire the children through the game and personal mentoring, but pictures also serve to remind participants of the world they live in. A collage is set up around the basketball court, including pictures of loved ones lost, like Jehru Donaldson, Jay Donaldson’s son, who was killed in a carjacking incident 12 years ago. A banner with painted handprints on it was also hung, symbolizing friends and family that have died.

“These handprints… give homage to the loved ones we’ve lost,” said Jay Donaldson. “We take it everywhere we go. They aren’t forgotten.”

In the future, Jakim Donaldson said that P.R.O.M.I.S.E. is looking to expand the camp into a league for children in the Northside.