If you had a group of teenagers gathering next to your house every day, your reflex might be to ask them to leave.
That’s the opposite of what one Hudson, Que., woman did, however, and now she’s being hailed by her community for her kind gesture.
Rebecca Collett and her family moved into their house in Hudson a few months ago. It’s right across from Westwood High School’s Senior Campus, and she quickly noticed kids were hanging out next to her home every lunch time.
“I’ve got to say, I was a little taken aback by the amount of young people that would hang out in the path. I’m thinking to myself, ‘What can I do? What can I do to help them instead of chase them away?'” she told Global News.
A few weeks ago, she came up with an idea. She put an old basketball net right in front of her house, got community members to donate some balls, put them in a bin outside and put up an invitation.
“I literally went in my basement that day and grabbed a bin, put my address on it and said, you know, ‘Students, neighbours, play a game of basketball.’ The next day, the very next day, I get a picture from my son saying, ‘Mom, it worked.'”
Now she says every weekday, teens are at her net, shooting hoops. They come before school, during lunch, even after school. She sits on her front porch and watches with a smile.
“It’s been so amazing, and they’ve just been so appreciative, so kind and respectful. I couldn’t have imagined the turnout and I couldn’t have imagined how how well it would go,” she said.
Collett says there is no more litter on or around her property.
The kids are full of gratitude.
“I would expect them not to want us around here since we wander a lot here, but they just kind of included us, you know what I mean? So I thought that was pretty nice,” said 17-year-old Cailem Austin during a break from shooting hoops.
With kids not allowed to play basketball in the school gym at lunch due to COVID, Collett’s net has become the spot to be.
“There’s nowhere else to do it! Everything is closed down,” she exclaimed.
“It’s just really nice, and it’s unexpected,” said student Kim Delaney, who said it’s a great way to expend some energy ahead of afternoon classes.
Catherine Hogan, a teacher at Westwood, recognizes it can often be a challenge living next to a school with a thousand students, and praised Collett’s initiative.
“They’re able to play and get out and move around and get some exercise at the same time as developing some relationships with our close community neighbours. It’s just fabulous,” Hogan said.
Collett says one teen even promised to buy some flowers for her garden after thanking her for putting up the net. She says the response on social media has been glowing.
“It’s been a wonderful experience. I wouldn’t change a thing other than maybe a new net, but we’re working on that,” she said.
Collett invites anyone from the community to come by and play.