Saturday Night Lights program for kids returns across NYC

Kids flooded the Prince Joshua Avitto Community Center in East New York for the start of the program.

Oct 15, 2023, 2:33 AM

Updated 284 days ago

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It was an exciting evening for dozens of kids as Saturday Night Lights returned across New York City's five boroughs. Kids flooded the Prince Joshua Avitto Community Center in East New York for the start of the program. For many, they said the initiative is more than just sports. "This is a safe haven, this is a distraction, an escape from what's going on in the real world and they know that they could be themselves," said Mark Yepez, program coordinator of Good Shepherd SNL. Yepez added that working with the students at the center reminded him of his purpose.
"I noticed growing up a lot of people didn't have the same opportunities, same resources, same support cast as me. So I figured it's only right to look out for the next generation and leave a great impact," he added. Participants said the impact is so big that it gives young people another route that doesn't include the streets. "Nowadays, a lot of these kids are in gangs and stuff. Me, personally, I don't like that, but I feel like this is a great way to stay out of the streets," said participant Kalil Alston. The NYPD, the Department of Youth and Community Development, the city's five district attorneys and community-based organizations joined forces back in 2021 to open 130 locations across the boroughs. They said this program builds trust. "It really brings a lot of friends and enemies together... This is where partnerships and friendships are developed," said State Assembly Member Nikki Lucas. Anyone interested in the SNL program can fill out an application that can be found here.


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