Midnight basketball in East St. Louis designed to help keep kids out of crime

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EAST ST. LOUIS , ILLINOIS ( KTVI)-  The midnight basketball league will start next week. Midnight basketball is a national social inclusion program that focuses on providing young adults in the community with a safe, structured and supervised alternative during the time they are most vulnerable to the drug culture and the crime it spawns.  The program aims to reach young men who are mostly likely at risk of being victims of or contributors to violent crime in the city. “I hope through the interaction with positive, caring role models, the young men in the program will set goals and plan for their future,” said  East St. Louis Police Chief Michael Floore Sr. “I also hope they feel motivated to lead active and healthy lifestyles.”

The program is aimed at keeping kids in East St. Louis  off the streets and curbing violence.  Rev. Harold Lawary one of the organizers  of the Midnight Basketball League said the cost to operate the program will be about $137, 000 and the group is  asking the public to donate  to a worthy program. "We are on a mission to raise the funding  to sustain throughout the year.  We would like to continue  the midnight basketball program, said Rev. Lawary.

Organizers say before the ball goes up, participates will learn about manhood, responsibility , self discipline ,pride and respect. Community leaders say  they   hope to touch those young people before they become a victim . " The motto is  no jump shot  until you go through a workshop . Give us a half of hour of your time and we will be able to put something in your head, " said Sylvester  Sunshine Lee,   Midnight Basketball Organizer.

Organizers are also  joining forces with law enforcement  "Crime that happens during the hours of 10 p.m and 2 a.m. in morning and during that time that's when gang activities occur . The Midnight Baseball League is the alternative to crime, " said Rev. Lawary.

The season will kick-off on February 13. Thereafter, the games will be played every Friday from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. at the Sunshine Cultural Art Center, located at 630 N. 59th Street in East St. Louis. , Illinois . In the late 1990’s, St. Clair County Judge Walter Brandon helped to start the first midnight basketball league in the city.

The organization is currently in need of funds to help support the program. they hope the community will join them in reaching a fundraising goal of more than $30,000.

If you would like to make a donation, please make checks payable to:
Community Performance Ensemble
c/o Midnight Basketball Program
630 N. 59th Street
East St. Louis, Illinois 62203