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Rucker-Style Basketball League Aims to Build New Relationships Between Youth and Police in Benton Harbor

Publication: KLCC Bridge
Published: April 2007

While many basketball fans around the country are still recovering from March madness and the NCAA basketball tournament final, the KLCC fellowship in Benton Harbor, Michigan, is gearing up for a new season of hoop dreams; one it hopes will spark the development of a new relationships between local youth and police.

The last week of June will see the launch of a new basketball league sponsored by the Boys and Girls Club of Benton Harbor [Michigan] in cooperation with several community partners. Modeled on the renowned street-ball tournaments that spring to life from the asphalt of Harlem’s Holcombe Rucker Park, where some players’ talent is compared to that of the NBA’s best, the setting will be one of the toughest parts of Benton Harbor. Community partners include police and city leaders. Initially, young players will take on the police and others, but there is planned integration of the teams where each will be comprised of teammates from across the groups. In this way, what might be perceived as the continuation of an adversarial relationship will have a chance to become a true team drawn from disparate interest groups working together to win.

KLCC fellows working with the Boys and Girls Club are helping to plan and market the program. They intend the league to run for 12 weeks every summer. Liji Hanny, director of youth programs, says, “It’s going to turn into a real communitywide effort.”

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