WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - Dozens of kids are participating in a Midnight basketball League at the Martin Luther King Center.
The program kicked off Friday night.
Pastor Clifford Barnett, who heads the league, said it is aimed at keeping kids out of trouble.
The league meets every Friday in the summer, at time when he said kids are susceptible to getting into trouble.
Barnett told us he's concerned about a recent spike in violence in some Wilmington communities.
"I'm always concerned, not only this time of year with the weapons, but with all the other challenges they have. Challenges with their schools, challenges with their neighborhoods, challenges with family structure not being strong," he said.
His hope is that programs like this one will keep kids out of trouble and out of gangs.
"Kids need positive reinforcement," he said. "They need stronger parenting. Kids need to see the model. And they need opportunities to be creative, opportunities to burn some of that energy, especially during the summer when they're not in school."
The Wilmington Police Department supports the Midnight basketball program.
Barnett hopes the program, which grew from 40 to 90 people in its second year, will attract even more young people in its third year.
Those ages 11 to 18 are welcome to participate.
The program is offered nine Friday evenings at the Martin Luther King Center located at 401 S. Eighth St. from 8 p.m. until midnight and is free.
For more information, call the Police Community Resource Coordinator at (910) 341-4608.
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