Sports can sometimes give one the opportunity to meet different people from different walks of life. Lance Walsh, a rising sophomore at Trumbull High School, took this opportunity to the next level.

Walsh represented Trumbull High basketball at the 2018 Full Court Peace Mission trip in Cuba this summer. Full Court Peace was founded in 2006 in Belfast, Ireland, by director and coach Mike Evans. Full Court Peace’s mission is to unite, educate, and strengthen local and global communities through the sport of basketball.

“Our youth lack ample opportunities to forge friendships across racial and socioeconomics lines,” Evans wrote on the group’s website, fullcourtpeace.org. “We are effectively raising children who will promote the status quo — a nation divided by race, class and income. The farther we slide away from each other, the less unified we are as a society, and the less prepared our children are to be socially competent citizens of this society.”

In 2013, Full Court Peace focused its efforts in Fairfield County, where the income and achievement gaps are ranked among greatest in the country. Last summer Walsh volunteered at a Full Court Peace Camp where he met Evans and learned about service learning programs in Cuba. Walsh joined 10 other students from Fairfield County for the trip to the island nation this year.

“Even though their lives are a lot different and don’t have similar facilities and equipment and clothing like we do in the U.S, they still have a common love for the game of basketball,” Lance said. “Seeing what they have in their country and what they go through every day makes me a lot more appreciative of the United States. “
Before the trip Walsh collected over 30 pairs of shoes for kids in need. Most of those were collected from people in and around town.

“I also volunteered at [Trumbull High Coach Buddy Bray’s] summer basketball camp and during the three weeks he let me put a box in the gym for donations,” Lance said. “My mom spread the word through Facebook so a lot of people donated a pair of shoes.”
While on the trip Walsh and the other volunteers painted basketball courts during the day and in the evenings the group would play against the local players.
Throughout this summer and his experiences with Full Court Peace, Walsh has found a gateway to express his love for the game of basketball while also changing people lives. Future plans include similar work a little closer to home, he said.

“I’m hoping to do something more locally and collecting more sneakers,” he said. “I am also  interested in making more trips to Cuba.”