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Fighting crime with hoops and hope


hoops 600Two facts about Memphis summers are unavoidable: it’s hot and school is out. The increase in temperature and decrease in daily structured positive activities for young people can often lead to an increase in crime.
 
Mayor A C Wharton Jr. is on a mission to ensure that Memphis’ youth, especially those in high-risk communities, have access to a safe and community-friendly environment through the 2nd Annual Safe Summer initiative. Bishop Mays, director of Memphis Gun Down, said the effort is part of the larger goal of reducing youth gun violence throughout Memphis. 
“Memphis Gun Down is a five target plan and these events really fall into two of those categories, suppression and intervention,” Mays said. “We work to find ways to engage the youth and keep them busy with positive activities during those peak crime times.”
 
The Safe Summer events get started with Midnight Basketball this Saturday (June 21st) at the Memphis Athletic Ministries Grizzlies Center (2107 Ball Rd.). There is no fee for participation.
Tournament play is from 7 p.m. until 11 p.m. each Saturday through July 26th, with the exception of July 5th. Participants in the 5-on-5 double elimination tournaments must check in at the registration booth by 6:45 p.m.
 
The tournament is open to males between 16 and 20 years of age. Players can come in an already formed five-man team or be assigned to teams at registration. Families are encouraged to support the teams as fans in the stands.
 
“We serve youth 8 to 18 years old, so this partnership allows us to minister to a broader range of youth,” says Rod Moses, chief administrative officer at Memphis Athletic Ministries. “We are pleased to offer this opportunity to get youth off the streets and into a positive environment.”
 
Midnight Basketball is one of two Safe Summer events sanctioned by Wharton through the Memphis Gun Down initiative in conjunction with the Memphis Grizzlies. The second event, Summer Night Lights, occurs later in the summer at the Ed Rice Community Center. Since the launch of Memphis Gun Down, the city reports a double-digit drop in youth gun violence in some high-risk communities.
 
To register for Midnight Basketball this weekend or any of the weekends though July 26th, visit www.memphisgundown.org
 
(This story is courtesy of Kingdom Quality Communications.)

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