United Voice: Midnight Basketball Program Celebrates 21 Years Of Keeping NE OKC Kids Safe
OKLAHOMA CITY - An annual summer tradition in Northeast Oklahoma City has bounced back for its 21st year. Midnight Basketball attracts kids from all over the metro each week, and it continues to promote positivity and reduce crime.
The sounds of summer echo from the court of Christ Temple Community Church on North Kelley every Friday night. A full-court press isn't the only objective. Two Hundred kids on average come to enjoy a free meal, music and games, as well as learn about career opportunities.
"These kids are walking here, so that speaks volumes to the community,” said Tony Tee, who has been the event’s DJ for five years.
Last week's event was sponsored by the Oklahoma National Guard. Recruiters brought an inflatable obstacle course for the younger kids to enjoy.
“Even if we get nothing out of this event as far as enlistment goes, it’s fine with us,” SFC Paul Davis said. “We’re still getting to be a part of that community and help out and give back.”
The even has been a summer staple for 21 years, with mentors like a team of deputy sheriffs on hand to keep the peace.
OCSO Deputy Marvin Sampson said, “It’s a beautiful thing when you see this many kids come together and it’s no confusion.”
Priscilla Meadows-Norwood is behind it all, through her organization Saving Our Youth.
She explained, “It’s from 7 to midnight, so by the time midnight comes, we hope that they’re too tired, and they just go home, and they don’t get into other activities.”
Some attribute Midnight Basketball to keeping them off the streets.
Longtime participant Jashean Taylor said, “A lot of my old friends, the ones that used to be my friends, they went down a bad, bad, bad path, and I can’t speak for them now.”
Meadows-Norwood added, “We have some that have been coming here since they were in middle school. Now they’re going off to college.”
One of those kids is Tilan Nolan, who will join the Garden City Community College women’s basketball team in the fall.
She said, “I usually tell Ms. Priscilla to put the goals up for me so I can practice on there…and she’ll do it for me, and I could just run up and down, work on my shot, dribble and everything to get better.”
Kids of all ages are welcome, and so are volunteers and donations to help Midnight Basketball continue for years to come.
Taylor said, “Come play basketball! We’re having a great time!”
Christ Temple Community Church is located at the corner of NE 27th Street and North Kelley Avenue. To learn more and connect with organizers, click here.
Editor’s Note: News 9 is part of a local initiative that brings all of our local media outlets together to give Oklahoma a United Voice in promoting a healthy dialogue on race. To see more stories, visit UnitedVoiceOK.org.