WPD offers midnight basketball program for kids

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Jaheim Marshall throws for net during a Police Athletic League game. He was this year's regional free throw champion, having scored 18 in a row at the state championships in Raleigh. Photo by Christina Haley.
Jaheim Marshall throws for net during a Police Athletic League game, another initiative by the Wilmington Police Department. File photo by Christina Haley.

A midnight basketball program dedicated to keep children off the streets is underway in Wilmington.

According to the City of Wilmington, the program runs each Friday from 8 p.m. to midnight at the MLK Community Center, 401 S. Eighth St., through Aug. 21. The program is free for kids age 12‐18 with no pre-registration required. Sign-up is at 8 p.m. each Friday.

The focus of the program is getting kids off the streets through organized basketball and educational sessions. Midnight basketball is one of many programs the Wilmington Police Department sponsors as part of a larger “community policing” initiative, according to the city.

Police see a decrease in the level of activity when the program is active, Wilmington Police Chief Ralph Evangelous said in an interview with Port City Daily last month.

“It’s pretty amazing. When we run midnight basketball, and we will have sometimes 75 to 150 kids at the gym,” Evangelous said. “Our [police] activity level decreases during that time. So there is a correlation there…we know that getting these kids off the streets corners or off the streets and into some healthy environment–a structured environment–with good adult supervision does make a difference.”

Each week, the program offers an educational session featuring different life lessons, followed by basketball. Food is also provided by donations from area churches and businesses.

For more information about the midnight basketball program call (910) 341-4608.