Windy City Hoops gives city youth basketball outlet

March 29, 2013 8:24:49 PM PDT
A Chicago Park District program called Windy City Hoops is keeping kids off the streets and scoring big points with teenagers.

The competition features the good and the not so good, but the players say it's all for fun.

There are more than 70 teenagers signed up to play at the Kennicott Park District in Hyde Park, one of ten facilities around the city giving kids like Zavier Robinson a place to play basketball on Friday and Saturday nights.

"It's just for fun, just get a chance to come out, hoop with your friends," Robinson said.

That's the idea according to park district officials. They say they know basketball is popular in Chicago neighborhoods. And by opening up the park district on weekend nights they are providing teens with a safe place to play.

"We're not necessarily in the violence prevention business, we're in the recreation business. We're just trying to engage kids in positive opportunities and hopefully that will have a positive influence on the community at large," said Vaughn Bryant, Chicago Park District.

The park district provides referees and officials to run the clock and scoreboard, but other than that, the games are mostly pick-up games with guys who already know each other pretty well from the neighborhood.

Pierre Celestine's son Peorrie is 13 and loves basketball. Until now there was no place to play on Friday or Saturday nights.

"It keeps them out of trouble and mainly it keeps the crime down in the neighborhood if they have something to do here other than being on the corner and in the streets,' said Peorrie's father, Pierre Celestine.

The program is intended to target at-risk teenagers. It is open year-round and they are raising funds to try to help pay for the timekeepers and referees.