City of Birmingham in Partnership with Local Youth-Serving Organizations and Law Enforcement Agencies to Launch Community Basketball League Aimed to Improve Police and Youth Relationships
Coming this April 2017, the My Brother’s Keeper – Birmingham will launch a late night basketball league open for males living in public housing communities in the Birmingham area. Knight Ball will be a year-long basketball league implemented in partnership with Birmingham public housing communities and local law enforcement agencies. This initiative will operate to promote and sustain positive relationships between police and youth through meaningful and enjoyable community activities.
As tensions between law enforcement and young people in urban communities all over the country have reached a boiling point, finding solutions to this issue has become a priority for many agents of change. “My Brother’s Keeper – Birmingham is a call to action for partners to work collaboratively across multiple sectors with an aim to build a solid foundation that supports boys and young men to develop into men of character,” says Mayor William Bell. “In doing so, the My Brother’s Keeper – Birmingham is working to implement proven and creative strategies to reach the milestones we have set forth.”
The program will recruit up to 120 male youth, between the ages of 15-24, to play on mixed-group teams with law enforcement personnel. “We are in these communities every day and typically a young person’s first interaction with law enforcement isn’t a positive one,” says Chief Roper of the Birmingham Police Department, “and unfortunately this leaves a lasting impression on young people who may one day need us to come to their aid. For us, we see Knight Ball as a great way to not just hold powerful discussions with our young people, but to also create positive and lasting relationships with them.”
In addition to the basketball games, participants from each housing community will be required to complete one community-based mentor session per month in order to remain eligible in the league. “We see that there are a lot of great youth-serving organizations with resources to offer the young people in these communities, and Knight Ball will serve as a way to make those connections,” says Growing Kings Executive Director, Marcus Carson. “The monthly, discussion-based program sessions will be led by different organizations and will focus on topics including character development, civics & culture, health & wellness, and financial literacy.”
Growing Kings was recently awarded a $25,000 grant from the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham to implement the Knight Ball program. “The Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham operates with a mission to drive positive change in our community through leadership and philanthropy,” said Christopher Nanni, President and CEO of the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham, “and we believe that Knight Ball is a unique opportunity for youth and law enforcement to engage with one another in a way that will drive positive change in our city.”
Knight Ball will take place at four recreation centers on three nights every month for each recreation center. The participating locations include Central Park, Fountain Heights, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Memorial Park. Each recreation center will house teams from nearby public housing communities, including: Morton Simpson Homes, Elyton Village, Collegeville Center, Tom Brown Village, Loveman Village, Cooper Green Homes, North Birmingham Homes, Marks Village, Southtown Homes, Tuxedo Terrace, Park Place Apartments, Harris Homes, Ben Greene/Roosevelt City, Kimbrough Homes, and Smithfield Court. Tryouts are scheduled to begin April 10th, 2017. For a full schedule of try out dates and times visit a local recreation center, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.