IDHS Celebrates the Tip-off of the Safety NETS Basketball League

NBA legends gather for the opening of a late night sports program and violence prevention initiative

Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) Secretary Carol L. Adams. Ph.D. tonight announces the tip-off of the Safety NETS Basketball League. A late-night sports and job readiness program for young men, the league is aimed at alleviating risk factors that make them vulnerable to gangs and criminal activities.

Opening ceremonies for the league will be held at 7:00 p.m. at Springfield Southeast High School. Dr. Adams and League Commissioner Gil Walker will be joined by former National Basketball Association legends, Dave Robisch, Kevin Gamble and Ed Horton.

"This initiative is a step in the right direction as we address high crime rates in our communities" said Gov. Blagojevich. "We are committed to making sure that our young people are focused on positive activities so that they can have a chance to better themselves and their neighborhood."

"Springfield is not immune to the rash of violence resulting in the senseless loss of life," said Secretary Adams. "We cannot continue to let children run our communities, we as adults need to do our part and lead our communities and be examples to the youth. Late night basketball programs have proven effective in the reduction of crime and criminal activity. I am proud of the progress we've made and today we have hundred of young men involved in something productive rather than sitting idle."

Studies show that in many neighborhoods, crime and violence occur more frequently between the hours of 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. In response to this crisis situation, the Safety NETS basketball league completed its first phase by launching sites in four high-risk communities.

The Safety NETS Basketball League has signed up 80 participants who will play on 8 teams.

The Safety NETS Basketball League is for young men 18 through 26 years of age. Most are unemployed, underemployed and/or disenfranchised. Players will sign a contract to participate in the program and will be required to attend mandatory workshops that will include counseling, referrals, and job readiness instruction. The league will feature strict rules, regulations and guidelines to ensure safety and sportsmanship among players.

The Safety NETS late night Basketball League will target Safety Net Works communities from 9 p.m. until midnight. The league functions similar to the NBA, where there are play-off games, an all-star game, and a league championship game.

"I applaud Secretary Adams for her commitment to violence prevention in our communities," said Gil Walker, commissioner of the Safety NETS Basketball League. "The Safety NETS program is designed to get young men off the streets and into the gym. Once we have them into the gym, they have an opportunity to listen to our ministry - and that is to be a good person overall."

Safety NETS Basketball League is another way to get young people active.

For more information or if you would like to sponsor a team contact Commissioner Gil Walker at 312-793-1547.

Additional Safety NETS Basketball League sites

Northern Division

Salvation Army Gym
69th Morgan

Eastern Division

St. Sabina
1210 West 78th Place

Western Division

East Garfield
JLM Abundant Life Community Center
2265 W. Jackson

Southern Division

South Central Community Center
1021 E. 83rd Street