CLEVELAND — On Saturday, the Cleveland Browns held an event aimed at unifying two local high school football teams from different racial and social-economic demographics as part of their “Build the Bridge” initiative.
Football players from Olmsted Falls High School and Cleveland Heights High School came together to participate in a “Locker Room Chalk Talk”—an open conversation about social justice and race relations in their communities.
After the open dialogue between the students, they took part in a very unique team building activity.
Both schools worked with each other to build and paint “legacy benches” that will soon be placed at each school to serve as a reminder of the importance of equality—both in sports and within the community.
After the benches were built and painted, the students came together to eat lunch provided by Raising Cane’s, which also donated $3,000 to the African American Football Coaches Association.
The program was established by Cleveland Heights coaches Mac Stephens and Kahari Hicks and former Beachwood Head Coach and President of the African American Football Coaches Association Damion Creel.
More than 80 Northeast Ohio high school football programs signed up to participate in the Build the Bridge initiative, which will look to continue the efforts seen on Saturday with other schools as well.
Once two schools are matched through the program, they hold a collaborative discussion on social justice and race relations, compete with each other on the field or in the weight room and share a meal together to end the day. After the event, coaches are encouraged to remain in regular contact throughout the year to deepen the conversation and strengthen their bond.
To learn more about the Browns’ Build the Bridge program, click here.