From Barriers to Belief: First Contact Buffalo, New York

Looking back on the efforts of this past year, it has been humbling to witness the degree to which the expansion of the Sports Equity and Access Coalition has facilitated a dialogue with some of the most impactful local youth leaders across this country who are actively working to overcome the barriers of inequity for young people.

One inspiring youth leader I am honored to highlight is Nekia Kemp, Executive Director of the Police Athletic League of Buffalo, New York. As Nekia puts it, “I am committed to helping the young people in the city of Buffalo stay Healthy in every way! This includes physical health, social, emotional, and mental health. Youth sports combine all these areas to support the health of the “whole child”. I am committed to this sports equity work to ensure that youth of color who reside in the city of Buffalo receive the same support as youth outside the city”. The mission of the Police Athletic League of Buffalo, Inc. is to improve the immediate and future quality of life for youth through enrichment and recreational programming in collaboration with law enforcement. Nekia represents some of the key stakeholders in the Buffalo area we have been fortunate enough to connect with over the past few months in an exchange of insights and perspectives.

This collaboration has led to an exciting partnership as we partner to build a Sports Equity and Access Coalition in Buffalo. And while the Bay Area and Western New York couldn’t be more different geographically, the systemic barriers standing between young people and equitable access to sports are quite similar, as is the path to overcoming them.

In addition to her role as the Executive Director role at PAL, Nekia has over 25 years of professional & supervisory experience working in the nonprofit community with children and youth in diverse educational settings. A Buffalo native herself, she is on the board of the New York State Network for Youth Success which is dedicated to building a youth-serving system that enhances the quality and availability of after-school learning programs and enrichment opportunities. She has been recognized extensively for the work she has done for the youth of the Western New York communities including the Mayor’s Youth Award, Buffalo Peace Award, and honored as a ” Women Touching the World.”

As we look towards the expansion of our partnership, in Nekia’s words, “There are many barriers to providing access to youth sports in the Buffalo Community. A few barriers include the lack of adequate facilities, the lack of financial support for organizations to provide programs and for families to afford fee-based programs, and the lack of a coordinated system and collaboration among youth sports organizations. I am looking forward to creating and implementing a plan to address the barriers to youth participating in your sports. This plan would be supported by the community in every way, including financial support”.

It has been an honor getting to work with Nekia and I look forward to sharing the impact and achievements that will come from this partnered launch of the Sports Equity and Access Coalition as we pilot it in Western New York.

If you are interested in bringing a sports equity coalition to your community or if you want to individually support advancing access to youth sports and a positive youth sports experience, please browse our website to learn more, sign up to become a coach, or take a coach training.


Robert Marcus
Chief Community Impact Officer
Positive Coaching Alliance