NOLA for Life scores funding
17th February 2014 · 0 Comments
By Nayita Wilson
Nike and Foot Locker have announced plans to fund the sixth season of New Orleans’ NOLA for Life Midnight Basketball program—a crime prevention initiative that New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu started to engage young men who live in some of the city’s most crime-stricken areas in constructive athletic activities.
The partnership was announced at Joe Brown Park last Thursday, opening day of NBA All-Start 2014 in New Orleans, before community members and young men from across the city. As a part of the partnership, Nike and Foot Locker will provide an undisclosed amount of funding to go towards the costs of uniforms for the program’s 150 participants, equipment and administrative costs.
Michael Jackson, vice president and general manager for Nike Basketball North America, said the relationship with New Orleans started in 2008 when Nike provided support to the renovation of St. Bernard Park. That relationship expanded in 2011 to include Joe Brown Park and other recreational centers have benefitted since then as well.
Jackson said, “So far we have installed multiple sports facilities that include basketball, football as well as track and field, which brings us to today’s exciting announcement. On behalf of Nike and Foot Locker, we are funding the sixth season of the NOLA for Life Midnight Basketball program.”
Landrieu said NOLA for Life, in particular, gives “young men something to do with hope of helping reducing violence.” When businesses join on board, they help the city in terms of national and international partnerships and hosting major events.
Landrieu said supporters have helped with about $25 million in renovations for New Orleans recreational facilities.
Kurt Scales, assistant coach for Warren Easton Charter High School’s boys’ basketball, and colleagues brought several young men to the event. Scales said the team was interested in seeing what Nike would do for the environment and New Orleans. He said it also provided the athletes with an opportunity see and hear from positive influences such as Anthony Davis, Forward-Guard for the New Orleans Pelicans and NBA All Star.
Kevin Hicks, 17, is a leading shooting guard at Warren Easton Chart High School and was one hundreds of young men who attended the event. Hicks said of the event, “The speech (Davis’) was influential. It gave me insight about working hard, performing ‘the unreal’, and not being average—not being like everybody else.”
Davis participated in the event on behalf of Nike. The Chicago native told attendees that he grew up in an environment where crime prevailed but took advantage of opportunities to occupy his time constructively.
Davis shared his advice for the young men and youth of New Orleans with The Louisiana Weekly: “You don’t have to go down that path. Just because you’re around it doesn’t mean you have to go down that path, and this is basically what Midnight for NOLA is.”
This article originally published in the February 17, 2014 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.