Nestled in the Heights community between Treadwell Elementary and Middle Schools and the surrounding neighborhood sits a large park. It boasts ample green space with designated sports fields and space for community gatherings. There was also a large unstructured blacktop, primarily used by the schools, with the potential for organized and organic play. But it needed refinement to become a meaningful place for games and activities. Recognizing this opportunity for investment in play led us to partner with the Heights CDC,  Memphis Shelby County Schools, love.fútbol, Project Backboard, ESPN and Nike to create a beautiful set of sports courts that will be used for generations to come.

In late 2023, the organizations gathered to create a blacktop plan. With investment from Nike and ESPN, they would refinish the surface and commission an artist to design two locally relevant sports-court murals. The basketball court would feature warm, inviting colors and the school’s mascot. They would also add a futsal court, creating opportunities to learn a court-based, soccer-adjacent game. Volunteers from the neighborhood would then use the remaining blacktop space to paint playground and recess games like hopscotch and foursquare, creating outdoor places for kids and families to get active and build community. 

After several months of work and construction, the organizations held a ceremonial kickoff event May 11. We started the morning with a special Game Day for our K-5 players and families while volunteers with the Heights CDC planted flowers, built benches and painted the blacktop. Then, Treadwell alumni and University of Memphis basketball coach Penny Hardaway, MSCS superintendent Dr. Marie Feagin and other community spokespeople shared the value of the park and the importance of play for kids and the overall community. The ceremony concluded with the kickoff and tipoff of the first games on the futsal and basketball courts.

The project at Treadwell Park speaks directly to our mission – ensuring children have neighborhood-based opportunities to get outside and play. But it also provides a place for adults to gather and build common ground; strengthens neighborhood value by beautifying home-adjacent public spaces; and supports our local school children by enhancing their play experiences.

You can learn more about this court by checking out this story or watching this YouTube video.