‘Midnight Basketball’ Celebrating 20 Years Of Helping OKC Kids
OKLAHOMA CITY - This Friday was the kick-off for the 20th year of a special summer program in Oklahoma City, Midnight Basketball. The group Saving Our Youth provides a court where inner city kids can play for free, and it has had a major impact over the years.
During the summer this event brings out about 150-200 kids a week, and it is keeping them off the street. Midnight Basketball is something local kids look forward to every year.
On Fridays they come to Christ Temple Community Church on North Kelley Avenue to enjoy free food, music, bounce houses and of course, plenty of basketball.
“Some kids can’t hoop, some can, so you just play different ones every time and just get better,” says Jaquay Wisby, 17, who started coming to the event five years ago.
Wisby says Midnight Basketball helped steer him down a better path. “I used to get in trouble a lot,” he says, “and I started coming here. It helped me…I ain’t in trouble a lot. I’m going to school more.”
Wisby even joined his school's basketball and football teams.
Midnight Basketball director Priscilla Meadows-Norwood says that is her goal. “We provide this, so maybe at the end of the Friday night they’re too tired,” she says. “They can just go home and not get into any other activity.”
At the kickoff, Meadows-Norwood and other organizers were recognized by the state senate for their efforts the past 20 years. The proclamation was read by Ajay Pittman, daughter of Sen. Anastasia Pittman, who are both running for new offices.
It would not be possible without help, though. Oklahoma County sheriff's deputies are on hand to build relationships and provide security, while local business owners and other donors sponsor the activities and volunteer their own time every week.
Two years ago they also chipped in to install a brand new basketball court for the kids.
“I’m just glad they did this for us,” says Jada McMillian, with her friend Christina Jackson adding, “Yeah, because I would have nothing to do on the weekends.”
Meadows-Norwood ultimately hopes to have access to an indoor/outdoor facility where the kids can play and mentors and tutors have space to work with them on academics.
Midnight Basketball is happening every Friday from 7:30 to midnight up until Aug. 3.
To connect to organizers, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.