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'There’s something about a childhood friend you just can’t replace.' A West Side photo essay by Courtney R. Hamilton

Support from the sidelines

Despite the season, friends gather to watch each other play on all their sports teams. During football season, girls attend their friends’ practices and games at Reid Middle School. Reciprocally, when the girls play, their friends are there on the sidelines in support.

PITTSFIELD — Today, I am sharing images that I feel capture the essence of being a kid. And the importance of creating bonds that can build lifelong friendships.

portrait of Courtney Hamilton

Courtney R. Hamilton. 

Kids have a natural, care-free spirit about them. Usually, they don’t censor themselves. They say what they want and do what they want — when and how they want.

There’s something about a childhood friend you just can’t replace.

Often, I look back at times growing up in the West Side, whether outside the Riverside with family, playing in what was then Pitt Park, riding bikes around the block, dancing and laughing. This month, I saw a group of kids riding their bikes toward Durant Park on Columbus Avenue.

A group of kids ride their bikes

A group of kids ride their bikes toward Durant Park on Columbus Avenue in Pittsfield on a mid-October day.

Two boys on a bike

Jaylen Hamilton, 13, gives his neighbor, Ma’riyah Grandson, 4, a ride on his bike outside their homes on Division Street in August.

Or we played tag while our parents gossiped about life.

I thought we were just being silly kids, my cousins and school friends and me. We were actually making some of my fondest memories.

And we were growing up. In August, I saw Jaxson Buzzella, who is 12, take time out during the Berkshire County Youth Football League Jamboree to talk on the sidelines with Rory Barnes, 7. Moments like that.

Football sideline chat between boys

Jaxson Buzzella, 12, takes a moment out of his game to talk with Rory Barnes, 7, on the sidelines during the Berkshire County Youth Football League Jamboree at Berkshire Community College in Pittsfield in August.

Kids on Division Street steps

Quincy Abielle, 13, left, Jaylen Hamilton, 13, right, and Bri’Awn Thompson, 14, hang out on the steps of Hamilton’s house on Division Street before a Beat the Streets basketball game in August.

Friendship is underrated, considering the huge impact it has on our well-being. Having family or friends as a support system can help us deal with the hardships everyone faces at some point throughout life.

Whatever the season, friends on the West Side gather to watch each other play on all their sports teams. During football season, girls attend their friends’ practices and games at Reid Middle School. When the girls play, their friends are there on the sidelines as well, ever in support.

Playing in bubbles

KHAOS Hillard, 6, left, Meilani Hamilton, 11, Kiarya Hill, 8, back right, and Blaise Hanger, 7, celebrate KHAOS’ birthday with a pile of bubbles in Hamilton’s backyard in Pittsfield in August.

Yes, the friends and family you thought would be there forever sometimes aren’t. But growing apart doesn’t change the fact that for a long time, you grew up, side by side.

Sisters munch on cider donuts

During an event celebrating the new Riverside Sitting Park on Dewey Avenue, sisters Zi’chelle, 6, and Jaeliana, 5, munch on apple cider donuts.

two girls chat at BCC

Meilani Hamilton, 11, chats with her neighbor Ma’riyah Grandson, 4, at Berkshire Community College in Pittsfield.

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