A journey of a thousand miles really does start with a click these days for kids.
This summer, middle school students in South Dallas practically flew around the world, thanks to an innovative program by Mavs Take ACTION! and the Too Fly Foundation.
Students simply put on a headset and zoomed around the globe to visit the dramatic landscapes of Slovenia all the way to the fortresses of Würzburg, Germany.
The youngsters then opened up a Mavs-inspired workbook and answered travel questions about each country and the players who call the destination home.
“Mavs act! wanted to work with Too Fly because it’s an innovative aspect, bringing travel experiences to students who may not have had the opportunity,” said Kamri Brown, who serves as Corporate Social Responsibility Coordinator at Mavs.
“We wanted to make sure all students had equal opportunities and exposure to programs like Too Fly. We love creating the ‘Mavs Tour’ which allows students to have an immersive experience from the 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 housed in the former Moorland Family YMCA, which served as a community center for black leaders during part of the Jim Crow era and the civil rights movement.
Now it belongs to a new generation of world changers and – world travelers.
That’s because the Mavs donated new high-tech Oculus headsets at the For Oak Cliff Technology dedication in February to help people travel virtually. Next came the workbook and program, and this summer it all reached new heights.
DALLAS MAVS: A GLOBAL FRANCHISE
International travel is essential for the Mavericks as the franchise has long been one of the most diverse teams in the NBA, having had players from different nations for the last 40+ years.
Current international players in the squad include Dāvis Bertāns (Latvia), Luka Doncic (Slovenia), Josh Green (Australia), 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 intriguing international histories 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 emigrated to France, where Ntilikina shone 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.
Escaping a country during genocide and starting anew in a new country is an extraordinary survival story. Ntilikina is proud of every country he represents including Rwanda where his parents were born and raised. Stories like his show why the Mavs wanted to get into the world of travel with young people.
Ntilikina and Doncic, 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 many things in life and as a foreigner,” Ntilikina shared in a previous interview. “You’re coming to a new country and you’re young, so you have to adjust to a lot of things in basketball, but also in life… and dealing with the cultural differences.”
Thanks to the Too Fly Foundation and virtual headsets, the kids can now visit Ntilikina’s hometown, along with Doncic’s Slovenia and the other places the Mavs represent. This will bridge the gap between gamers and youth in new, exciting ways. It allows children to ask questions and build more meaningful relationships.
When the NBA focuses on the communities and countries that players come from, it builds confidence in kids locally and around the world. It humanizes gamers and gives kids a chance to dream big.
Last year the NBA had 109 international players from 39 countries around the world.
The Too Fly Foundation knows that a world outside your own changes your life.
Born to Nigerian parents, co-founder Bola Ibidapo was drawn to the world around her from a young age. Her love of people fueled her passions.
Ibidapo also believed that travel shouldn’t be a privilege, so she stepped out in faith and co-founded the Too Fly Foundation with boyfriend Brandon Miller in 2016 to nurture the next generation of leaders.
She believes now is the time to form a leader.
“And I’m proud to say that I’m doing my part to encourage these brilliant young people,” Ibidapo said.
Too Fly aims to bridge the gap between students and opportunities by providing travel resources and experiences. The foundation says travel can transform and inspire the next generation. This is especially true in the COVID-19 era and when the economy takes a hit.
“Travel@Home was founded at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Ibidapo, who also serves as Executive Director. “Too Fly wanted to create an experience that sparks the curiosity of young people at home who are unlikely to have the opportunity or exposure to travel.”
Too Fly provides travel grants and passport grants to underserved students who wish to study or volunteer abroad but may not have the financial support to do so.
Made with the Dallas Mavs, the Too Fly Workbook might just be one of the coolest travel and basketball printables for kids. Each page brings the athletes and countries to life, sparking 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 to all of Dallas in 2022-23. For Oak Cliff will continue to improve technology opportunities for children and families at the Oak Cliff Superblock.
“Representing the Dallas Mavericks meant a lot to me growing up in this community,” said Taylor Toynes, co-founder of For Oak Cliff. “That the Mavs always come around and are very intimate is a real relationship. Building a real relationship with a professional sports team is a great encouragement.”