Keeping kids on the 'basket' ball

THE hunt is on for people to take advantage of an initiative to take part in a program to help combat anti-social behaviour in young people.

Midnight Basketball is a national social inclusion program to help young people identify and embrace positive opportunities.

With a 'No Work-Shop, No Jump-Shot' slogan, this innovative program is designed to engage teenagers in a safe and motivating environment, and has proven popular in a number of centres across Australia.

Designed for youth between the ages of 12 to 18, the tournament will run for eight weeks from 7pm to 11.30pm on Fridays, with all participants safely home by midnight.

Teams are given a healthy dinner, complete a life-skills workshop, and play tournament basketball over the course of the evening.

The program and workshops are highly structured, with a focus on life skills and job readiness. Transport home from the venue is also provided.

"The idea of the program is to give kids something fun, safe and positive to do on a Friday night," said Clarence Valley councillor Craig Howe, chairman of the Midnight Basketball Committee.

"It teaches them valuable lessons about healthy ways to live their life, and about being responsible young adults."

Midnight Basketball fills a gap by attracting marginalised youth into the program, providing a high energy, positive solution to the boredom and disruption caused by having nothing to do at the weekend.

The Midnight Basketball Tournament is set to 'tip-off' on October 21 in Grafton, and in February 2012 in Yamba.

Players participate in at least three matches of tournament basketball a night with qualified referees.

Basketball is crucial to success due to its unique inclusionary qualities as a team sport, including the opportunity to build leadership and teamwork skills, behavioural improvement, fitness and focus. Virtually anyone can play, it is held indoors, and both males and females think it is cool.

Anyone throughout the Clarence Valley interested in volunteering for this positive and engaging initiative is invited to contact Deborah Stafford - community development officer (Safe & Healthy Communities) at Clarence Valley Council on 66417221.


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