By Danielle Miller
Milwaukee Public Schools, in partnership with Milwaukee Police Department, City of Milwaukee Office of Violence Prevention and other community organizations teamed up with the Milwaukee Bucks to announce a Midnight Basketball League, which will be launched in March.
Milwaukee Bucks player Jon Hanson took a moment to speak to the crowd of student basketball players and cheerleaders sitting on the bleachers in their basketball uniforms and said he was excited to be a part of the Midnight Basketball’s launch.
“If this becomes successful it could change the game as far as the city goes,” Henson said about the community-based program.
MPS is working with community organizations to help engage young men within the community and give them the support they need.
Executive Director of MPS’s Outreach program, Denise Callaway said that it was important to see the value in helping to give the young men opportunities in the community.
“We are fortunate to have community partners that bring everyone together and make it happen for youth,” Callaway said.
Peter Feigin, President of the Milwaukee Bucks said they were proud to turn the vision into reality.
“This takes a village,” Feigin said, “I can tell you the Bucks have a strong commitment to take our responsibility to the community in a very serious way.”
The program, which is a 10-week league for men from 17-25 years old, is set to begin on the first of March at Bradley Tech. The League is part of MPS’s new initiative; MPS C.A.R.E.S (Community and Recreation Engaging Students).
Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said that in order to help the youth, the city needed teamwork.
“I’d much rather have us talking about basketballs over bullets,” Barrett said when addressing the league’s goal.
In addition to the league, the Milwaukee Police Department will be working with youth men to help mentor and provide additional services to those who need it.
“We want our community and young people to know that we have our doors open for them.” said Superintendent of Milwaukee Public Schools Darienne Driver in a press release
Milwaukee Police Department Captain, Ray Banks spoke about the department’s partnership with the program, along with Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission. Banks joked about going beyond partnership and participating in the games to show the young people how the game is played.
“This is more than just a basketball game,” said Banks, “This is about enrichment. About providing a safe place for young people and also giving them an opportunity to make healthy decisions.”
MPS is also working with Running Rebels, a community youth agency that helps youth make a positive impact in their lives, to help get students closer to resources they need in their community.
“To me,” Barrett said about the partnerships that went into organizing the league, “this is our NBA All-star effort, by bringing together all of our community partners for the young people.”
With Milwaukee’s community organizations coming together, Henson says giving students something to look forward to and put their energy into could be the best for the city.
“It’s up to the responsibility of the youth to make this a good environment and not bring riff-raff into the game,” Henson said.