Jorge Casimiro, Nike’s Chief Social & Community Impact Officer and Nike Foundation President, discusses Nike’s commitment to help build an athletic facility at the Obama Presidential Center — and why the company partners for impact.
Very soon there will be a new home court in Chi-Town as Nike and former US President Barack Obama come together to create a public athletic facility in Obama’s Presidential Center. When President Obama’s Presidential Center opens its doors, it will be the first to include a public athletic facility — made possible in part by a $5 million contribution from the Nike Foundation.
This space will be for the community open to Chicago residents alike and folk visiting the Chi. The community recreation facility that is planned will break down barriers but also falls in line with Barack’s own sporting history and love of sport.
The other three buildings on campus will be a museum, a forum for public meetings and programming and a library in partnership with the Chicago Public Library (complete with homework help!), which will all wrap around a main plaza. This place looks like it’s gonna be amazing.
Elsewhere on the campus, which falls onto Chicago’s Jackson Park, there will be new gardens, a two-acre playground, paths for jogging and strolling, a huge green lawn for playing and a hill for sledding. This will be a inspirational spot but also a place to get active and according to Barack himself:
“It wouldn’t be the Obama Presidential Center without a place to play some ball.”
For Nike their investment hopes to create a space that serves the community through sport but also through community interaction, listening, learning and understanding.
For Jorge Casimiro:
“It’s about coming together with common purpose to amplify our collective capacity for impact.”
As Nike’s Chief Social and Community Impact Officer, I’m reminded every day of the potential that partnership unlocks — how teaming up with grassroots groups and global organizations can unleash the power of sport to change lives and change communities.
On a basketball court in Brooklyn, kids from divided neighborhoods square off under the rim through our partner PeacePlayers and come away with something more lasting than points scored: respect. In Berlin, refugee children discover a common language on a football pitch through Berlin Kickt — while also finding role models in coaches who come from similar backgrounds. In Mexico City, another community partner, TRASO leverages boxing to fight deep-rooted social issues by giving children not only a safe place to engage in sport, but ways to see how they can change their futures for the better.
Our approach to these community partnerships is grounded in the knowledge that kids who move will move the world. And for those facing the steepest barriers, the benefits of play and sport have an especially powerful ripple effect.
Research shows that active kids do better in every way. They’re healthier, happier and more successful — in the classroom, in their careers and in their communities. The difference isn’t potential — because regardless of their surroundings, all kids are born with potential. The difference is opportunity.
I think back to growing up in New York and New Jersey, where opportunity meant everything to Cuban-American families like mine. What we shared in our family and in our neighborhood was a sense of perseverance, a determination to do what we could with what we had to pursue a brighter future. In my family, everyone pitched in to help make ends meet. After school, I’d spend my afternoons helping out at the gas station that our family operated, pumping gas, checking oil and sweeping the floor.
The truth is, I didn’t have many chances to play growing up. And if I could go back and tell 10-year-old Jorge that one day he’d get to work with an amazing team to help kids around the world run, jump and play sports on their way to brighter futures, there’s no way I would have believed it.
That’s what I think about when I think about what the Obama Presidential Center will mean for kids on the South Side of Chicago, and for visitors from around the world. There, in the community where President and Mrs. Obama started their improbable journey, the Obama Presidential Center will be a reminder to people of all ages that their potential is unlimited.
This is gonna be dope no doubt and it’s a great move from Nike for the new decade and what a give back to such a historic city… SALUTE…
Info via Nike News