NEW ORLEANS, LA—Today, Mayor Mitch Landrieu, the New Orleans Pelicans and PlayNOLA announced details for the fourth season of the NOLA FOR LIFE Midnight Basketball League, which will begin on Saturday, June 1, at Joe W. Brown Recreational Center. The inaugural season kicked off in January 2012. Since then, the program has continued to grow and garner support from participants and the greater community. Over the past three seasons, there have been more than 3,000 participants. The NOLA FOR LIFE Midnight Basketball League is a part of Mayor Landrieu’s plan to reduce murders in New Orleans.
NOLA FOR LIFE Midnight Basketball consists of a series of 5-on-5 tournaments from 8pm to midnight each Saturday from June 1 until August 3, 2013. It is free of charge and open to males over 16 years old. Each Saturday night tournament follows a NCAA-type tournament structure. In addition to providing safe recreational opportunities in crime hot spots for young men through the game of basketball, mentorship and educational support are also key components of the program each Saturday.
“We are so excited to begin yet another season of Midnight Basketball,” said Mayor Mitch Landrieu. “Each season proves to be a safe, fun and enriching opportunity for our young men, providing them with worthwhile options and alternatives to the streets of New Orleans.”
“We are proud to continue our partnership with Mayor Landrieu and the City to give young men a positive outlet through the game of basketball,” said Saints and Pelicans Owner/Vice Chairman of the Board Rita Benson LeBlanc. “We will continue to support the young people in our community and hope that Midnight Basketball motivates them to be active and healthy, as well as inspires them to set goals for their future.”
"As the NOLA FOR LIFE initiative continues to expand its work around violence reduction, Midnight Basketball will continue to prove as a valuable initiative for the young men of our community,” said Lavonzell Nicholson of PlayNola. “We will see in years to come unlikely success stories that all started on the basketball court."
Midnight Basketball aims to reach young men who are mostly likely at risk of being victims of or contributors to violent crime in New Orleans. A group of participants surveyed from last season showed that: 44% are victims of violence, 23% have a record of arrest, 20% are unemployed and 15% are unemployed and out of school.
The first Midnight Basketball season was launched in early 2012 as a result of the Saving Our Sons Crime Action Summit in partnership with the New Orleans Hornets and ran from January to March. Initially, the tournaments took place every other Saturday night at the St. Bernard Center from 8pm to 12 midnight. The second season was housed at Joseph Clark Preparatory High School in the Treme neighborhood. Last season, the program moved to KIPP Central City High School to serve the Central City neighborhoods. This season, Midnight Basketball will move to eastern New Orleans.
Each season of NOLA FOR LIFE Midnight Basketball is built around a specific enrichment theme. The theme for the fourth season is “Power Over Pressure”. Through the enrichment portion of the program, positive role models from the community will engage the participants of Midnight Basketball through mentorship, conversation and collaboration – all focused on ways to define the power that everyone has to overcome pressure and strive for success. The enrichment partners will all be stakeholders and members of the community, including entrepreneurs, local business owners and community leaders.
"This is the second year I have been involved in NOLA for Life Midnight Basketball,” said Jacquelyn Brechtel Clarkson, Councilmember-at-Large. “It is a very valuable program for crime prevention!"
“It’s essential that more of our young men have access to recreational and educational activities like Midnight Basketball,” said Kristin Gisleson Palmer, Councilmember District C. “The tournaments support their health and well-being and foster a sense of community for everyone involved.”
“To fight our culture of violence, we have to engage young people in positive activity,” said Cynthia Hedge-Morrell, Councilmember District D. “As a school principal, I had the opportunity to see the positive impact of a nighttime basketball league when the City initiated this program in the 1990’s. Midnight Basketball has many benefits for our youth including recreation, team building and boosting self-esteem.”
“We must provide clean, healthy and safe activities for our young people, especially during times that are most dangerous for them to be on the streets,” said James Gray, Councilmember District E. “Midnight Basketball accomplishes that goal.”
Developed in May 2012, NOLA FOR LIFE is New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s comprehensive murder reduction strategy to tackle the city’s historically-high murder rate. Recognizing that law enforcement alone cannot solve the murder problem, the NOLA FOR LIFE plan takes a holistic approach to get to the root of the problem, and divides the plan into five main categories including: Stop the Shooting; Invest in Prevention; Promote Jobs and Opportunity; Improve the NOPD; and Get Involved and Rebuild Neighborhoods. For more information, visit www.nolaforlife.org .
You can also follow NOLA FOR LIFE at on Twitter at https://twitter.com/NOLA_for_Life and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/NOLAforLife.