Pictured (l-r): NYPD Assistant Commissioner Kevin O’Conner; former WNBA Player and current Assistant Coach for Rutgers University Chelsea Newton; Manhattan DA Cyrus R. Vance, Jr.; Graham Windham Services for Families & Children Program Director Nickeisha Byron; Coca-Cola Special Representative Laverne Harley; and a Fit Clinic organizer.
On September 10, 2014, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., NYPD Commissioner Kevin O’Conner, WNBA star Chelsea Newton, representatives from the Coca-Cola Foundation, and community partners of the DA’s Office joined together to host a youth basketball “Fit Clinic” for participants in the DA’s Saturday Night Lights athletic program in West Harlem. The event, which took place at the Manhattanville Houses, gave players from multiple “Drill and Play” sites across Manhattan the opportunity to participate in training drills and practice with professional coaches.
“The enthusiasm and commitment of all those involved is what makes these programs so successful,” said District Attorney Vance. “Thanks to the support of our partners, we’ve been able to grow this initiative from a single site with a handful of participants into a comprehensive athletic program serving thousands of kids in both Manhattan and Brooklyn. Participants aren’t just learning how to play ball – they’re learning valuable life lessons, like how to play on a team.”
This event was made possible through a partnership with the WNBA and Coca-Cola Foundation, which recently awarded a $50,000 grant to the DA’s youth engagement and anti-crime initiatives.
The Saturday Night Lights initiative was launched in 2010 in response to the prosecution of a violet street gang that recruited young children to transport guns and drugs for gang members. Using forfeiture money seized through drug cases, the Office was able to provide free, high-quality athletic training and academic counseling to program participants. Since 2010, the program has expanded to include volleyball, soccer, tennis, and baseball training, and has served more than 3,500 boys and girls between the ages of 11 and 18 at nine different sites in Manhattan and Brooklyn.
The program has also earned an award from U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder for Outstanding Contributions to Community Partnerships for Public Safety. More information about the Saturday Night Lights program and enrollment is available on the Facebook and Instagram pages, and a registration form is available online.