Fort Worth police officers, alongside a faithful crew of dedicated volunteers, continue to find ways to create experiences that promote positive educational outcomes, cultural diversity and personal growth for local youth.
For the third consecutive year, the Code Blue After Dark-Basketball League has allowed officers to reach out to communities through basketball. On Saturday evenings from June through August, neighbors gather at O.D. Wyatt High School’s gym to watch members of the community showcase their talents on the hardwood. Code Blue After Dark and the officers who facilitate the program provide a family-friendly and safe environment that serves as an alternative for kids who might otherwise be hanging out on the streets.
Officers encourage community involvement through positive interactions with the members of the police department. And the officers assigned to Code Blue After Dark can hang in there when they hit the court!
Although basketball is the primary tool used to reach people, Sgt. Chris Britt said this program serves as more than a summer evening basketball league. It is a major step in the process of enhancing the sense of procedural justice in communities of color, and it helps the police department develop opportunities like connecting felons to job opportunities or educating them about programs critical to destroying the pipeline to poverty, like warrant forgiveness.
The program also partners with the Fort Worth Police Athletic League (FWPAL) to add a youth mentoring element, basketball skills clinics and camps for kids.
Earlier this year, the FWPAL and the Code Blue After Dark Basketball League hosted 30 young people at a Dallas Mavericks game at American Airlines Center. The experience was as impactful to the adults as it was for the kids — it highlighted the need for mentoring and community involvement and motivated more adults to play active roles in the future of Fort Worth’s children.
Fort Worth officers plan to offer future college visits, job fairs, trips to museums and sporting events. These activities will be available to young people who otherwise might not be able to afford them.
In August, the Code Blue After Dark Basketball League will sponsor the 2018 Mayor’s Back to School Basketball Showcase. This event features the extraordinary talents of youth from across the city and FWISD schools. And there’s an added value: ensuring students have all the school supplies they need to start the upcoming school year.