‘Saturday Night Lights’ youth program expands into all five boroughs

EAST HARLEM — The purpose of the program is to get more kids involved in sports, with the thinking that when they're playing on the basketball court, they're less to wind up in criminal court.

"What it's doing is connecting kids with the community, with each other, with the police department, bringing law enforcement and the community and the kids together in a very positive way." said Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance said Saturday.

Vance announced the citywide expansion of Saturday Night Lights, a youth violence prevention program.

"On any given weekend night there will be about a thousand kids in Manhattan who are participating in the Saturday Night Lights programs," he said.

The announcement was made at the Corsi Community Center in East Harlem. And now, eight additional sites have been added across all five boroughs.

"So many times I go out in the community and people complain, 'we need more things for our young people,' but not anytime — at night time," said Bronx DA Darcel Clark.

"We need to provide safe spaces for our kids to grow up, for our kids to learn, for our kids to get to know each other."

Brooklyn DA Eric Gonzalez says it keeps kids out of trouble.

"They can stay away from street gangs and other bad influences that are in many of our neighborhoods. "

It's all being made possible with $1.4 million in assets forfeited by banks that violated trade laws.

The programs are all free.

Paul Jeffries, director of community development for the New York Football Club, says the results of the programs have been outstanding.

"100 percent of the kids graduate high school," he said.

Football, basketball, soccer and dance classes are all offered. The goal is to get 100 gyms citywide to open up weekend nights to take part in Saturday Night Lights.

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