the give and grow

This woman in Toronto is making planters out of basketballs for a good cause

Houseplants are all the rage right now, and for good reason: they give people something to take care of during lockdown, they make any space look absolutely dreamy, and they can teach us a lesson or two about growth.

That latter point is in part what spawned one Toronto woman to tap into her love of sports and uplifting her community to create some one-of-a-kind planters made out of basketballs.

Olivia Ho, who is a huge Toronto Raptors fan and who has coached kids on the court in the past, has toyed with these ideas of figuratively sowing seeds, solidifying roots, and growing to one's full potential — and how she can help others do the same.

"Our goal is to help empower the growth of everyone and everything around us... planting the seeds for the next generation of youth with a strong focus on mental health and wellness," she says of her initiative The Give and Grow, which has garnered thousands of followers and even a shoutout from the Raptors themselves.

Though she says she's not the first to start making planters out of sports equipment, she may perhaps be the first to use a portion of the funds she makes from them to launch workshops for young women in her home city that inspire conversation, mentorshop and creativity.

She's managed to partner with a number of community organizations to turn her programming into a reality, as well as with various Toronto artists who customize her planters for special raffles, with proceeds again going toward her cause.

In one of her monthly workshops led by community leaders who "share similar lived experiences as our participants and are trailblazing in areas of interest to [them]," women can even learn to design and make some planters of their own, though in-person events are of course now on hold due to the pandemic.

Ho's endeavour reached a high point last month when she got some public praise from the Raps, somewhat of a dream come true. A spate of her unique planters were sent off to members of the team as housewarming gifts in Tampa Bay, where they were playing their 2020-2021 season.

"The Raptors collaboration was definitely something at the top of my bucket list," Ho says, still awestruck that her business was shared with the franchise's millions of fans.

"Needless to say, I've been super busy since then trying to catch up to all of the demand. It's been an exciting and humbling experience so far and I can't wait to see how much more we grow."

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