Mindful Little Spotlight: Shay Patel

Our #MindfulLittleSpotlight story is about Shay Patel, a basketball coach, mentor, visionary, and humanitarian. The shocker? He is only fourteen years old.

Mindful Littles Spotlight Stories features stories on littles that are taking the initiative and positively impacting their communities. Please email us at info@mindfullittles.org in order to nominate a little you know for a feature story.

Empathy is about standing in someone else’s shoes. Yet what would you do if you saw something wrong about said shoes? Eleven year old Shay Patel took matters into his own hands in 2014, translating empathy into actio

n when he noticed littles playing basketball without proper shoes. The then 5th grade student launched “Alley-Oop Kids,” a project aiming to help less fortunate littles realize their athletic potential. Amazingly, Alley-Oop Kids is run entirely by littles!

Today, Alley-Oop Kids continues to expand according to Shay’s vision and direction. In the past three years, Shay’s numerous projects have included raising thousands of dollars to create athletic equipment gear packs donated to low-income littles, and directing after-school camps for up to 60 summer school students in East Palo Alto’s Ravenswood District. Future goals for Alley Oop Kids include establishing a fund to enable even more projects, and assembling a team to go to India (where basketball is gaining popularity) in order to run free clinics for underprivileged littles there.

It truly is fascinating to witness how one small spark can grow and develop in directions never imagined if cultivated in a supportive environment. For Shay, the support of his family and community have allowed him to overcome obstacles while combining his passion for basketball and his drive to aid and teach less fortunate littles. Shay credits his parents with teaching him that he is capable of launching and managing a nonprofit organization. “They have taught me that no task is too large if there’s positive motivation behind it.” He explains that with their support, he’s successfully created videos, online funding pages, and a website. He’s even pitched his summer camp idea to the superintendent of the Ravenswood School District. Yet the most valuable lesson, he adds, is that “you should always make time in your life to help others. It’s our duty.” This encouragement of selfless service in littles is vital, and commendable.

Next, Alley Oop Kids has also received a great deal of support, both financial and otherwise, from the local communities. This support has been invaluable for some challenges that Shay has faced, such as raising funds on an ongoing basis. According to Shay, “younger volunteers have really stepped up to raise money through bake sales, lemonade stands, and running online funding pages.” With all this support, he’s lucky, he says, that the most challenging aspect of his cause is finding the time to do more projects.

Shay with Stanford women’s basketball head coach, Tara VanDerveer, receiving an award for Alley-Oop Kids in Nov

The take home message is that people are very willing to aid these humanitarian projects. They’re eager to help. A lot of times, all they need is a leader to rally behind, and Shay Patel proves that that leader can come in all ages and sizes. As Canadian attorney Robin S. Sharma stated, “leadership is not about a title, or a designation. It is about impact, influence, and inspiration.” Impact is about achieving results. Influence is used to spread passion for a cause. Lastly, leaders inspire teammates and supporters.

Given this definition, Shay undoubtedly exemplifies leadership, serving as a concrete reminder that no one is too young to make a difference. He credits coaching his free summer camps with forcing him to develop his leadership capabilities. According to the fourteen year old, “not only did I have to organize the logistics, I had to lead and motivate these kids, even becoming a motivational speaker to some level.” Shay goes on to explain that it is experiences like these that serves as positive motivation; he feels energized to do more through the contagious energy of the littles that he coaches.

Shay truly is a credit to his community, winning the 2017 Children Have The Power to Empower℠  Award, which we are grateful to have nominated him for, for running those free basketball camps. Thank you Shay, for being such a powerful role model for other littles. We are honored to share your story, and we can’t wait to see where you take Alley-Oop Kids in the future.

To learn more about Shay’s cause, visit: www.alleyoopkids.org