SOUTH DALLAS — A journey of a thousand miles really starts with one click.
This summer, middle school students in South Dallas virtually soared across the world, thanks to a cutting-edge program created by Mavs Take ACTION! and the Too Fly Foundation.
The students simply put on a headset and zoomed across the globe to visit the dramatic scenery of Slovenia to the fortresses of Würzburg, Germany.
Afterwards, the youth opened up a Mavs-inspired workbook and answered travel questions about each country and the players who call the destination home.
“Mavs Take ACTION! wanted to work with Too Fly because of the innovative aspect of bringing travel experiences to students who may not have had the opportunity to do so,” said Kamri Brown, who serves as the Mavs corporate social responsibility coordinator.
“We wanted to be sure that all students have equal opportunities and are exposed to programs like Too Fly. We love being able to create the ‘Mavs Tour’, which allowed students to have an immersive experience from countries of their favorite Mavs players.”
In February 2022, the Mavs and Mavs Foundation donated the largest technology center in franchise history at For Oak Cliff. The organization is now located at the former Moorland Family YMCA, which served as a community hub for Black leaders during part of the Jim Crow Era and Civil Rights Movement.
Now it belongs to a new generation of world-changers and — world travelers.
More and more studies show that socioeconomic integration is a key component to the success of youth in the modern age. Children have to be exposed to what is possible and this program expands their horizon.
To help bridge the gap, the Mavs donated high-tech Oculus headsets and kits at the For Oak Cliff technology dedication that came in handy at the Too Fly summer camp. The Mavs Tour workbook allowed each child to learn about the players’ homelands and elevated their experiences throughout the world.
Everyone came together in June to celebrate a successful camp and the kids shared more about their favorite destinations.
DALLAS MAVS: A GLOBAL FRANCHISE
International travel is essential to the Mavericks because the franchise has long been one of the most diverse teams in the NBA, boasting players representing various nations over the last 40-plus years.
Current international players on the roster include Dāvis Bertāns (Latvia), Luka Dončić (Slovenia), Josh Green (Dual Citizenship: Australia/USA), Maxi Kleber (Germany), Frank Ntilikina (Rwanda/Belgium/France) and Dwight Powell (Canada).
Ntilikina, a 6-4 guard for the Dallas Mavs, has perhaps one of the most fascinating international stories in the NBA. His parents fled war-torn Rwanda and moved to Belgium, where the future NBA star was born. A few years later, his family immigrated to France, where Ntilikina dazzled on the basketball courts.
Last summer, he won a silver medal with France at the Tokyo Olympics and published a children’s book about his life.
Fleeing a country during the genocide and starting over in a new land is an extraordinary tale of survival. Ntilikina is proud of each country he represents, including Rwanda, where his parents were born and raised. Stories like his highlight why the Mavs desired to tap into the world of travel with young people.
Ntilikina and Dončić, a native of Ljubljana, Slovenia, were just 19 years old when they debuted in the NBA, and everything was brand new on and off the court.
“You deal with a lot of stuff in life and being a foreigner,” Ntilikina shared in a previous interview. “You’re coming into a new country and being young, so you gotta get used to a lot of stuff in basketball but also life…and deal with the cultural differences.”
Thanks to the Too Fly Foundation and virtual headsets, the children can now visit Ntilikina’s country, along with Dončić’s Slovenia and the other places the Mavs represent. This bridges the gap between the players and youth in new exciting ways. It allows the kids to ask questions and form more meaningful relationships.
When the NBA focuses on communities and countries where the players come from, it boosts confidence for kids locally and all over the world. It humanizes players and gives children the chance to dream big and expand their horizons.
Last year the NBA had 109 international players representing 39 countries worldwide.
The Too Fly Foundation knows that a world outside your own is life-changing.
Co-founder Bola Ibidapo was born to Nigerian parents and from a young age she was drawn to the world around her. Her love for people fueled her passions.
Ibidapo also believed that travel should not be a privilege, so she stepped out in faith and co-founded the Too Fly Foundation with friend Brandon Miller back in 2016 to uplift the next generation of leaders.
She believes that the time to mold a leader is now.
“And I’m proud to say I am doing my part to encourage these brilliant young people,” Ibidapo shared.
Too Fly aims to give students new opportunities by providing travel resources and experiences. The foundation says that travel can transform and inspire the next generation. This is especially true in the COVID-19 era and as the economy takes a hit.
“[email protected] was created during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Ibidapo, who also serves as executive director. “Too Fly wanted to create an experience that sparked the curiosity of young people at home, who likely are not given or exposed to the opportunity of travel.”
Too Fly provides travel grants and passport scholarships to under-served students who wish to study or volunteer abroad but may not have the financial support to do so.
The Too Fly workbook created with the Dallas Mavs is perhaps one of the coolest travel and basketball printouts made for children. Every page brings the athletes and countries to life and sparks creativity for young and old alike.
The travel experience and curriculum was shared with For Oak Cliff students in June 2022.
Too Fly and the Dallas Mavericks plan to expand the program throughout Dallas in 2022-23. For Oak Cliff will also continue to boost technology opportunities for children and families in the Oak Cliff superblock.
“The representation of the Dallas Mavericks meant a lot to me growing up in this community,” said For Oak Cliff co-founder Taylor Toynes. “For the Mavs to always come around and be very familiar is a true relationship. To build a genuine relationship with a professional sports team is a huge encouragement.”
Story: Tamara Jolee, Dallas Mavs
Pictured below are sample pages from the workbook (formatting may vary)