Event emphasizes positive choices

Published 10:51 pm Saturday, July 11, 2009

Scores of children converged on the East Suffolk Recreation Center Saturday to play basketball.

The teens and preteens shot hoops, competed in three-point shootouts, and received trophies for winning the shootout. The organizers of the Ball 4 Life event, though, admit that basketball was only an enticement to draw them in.

“We wanted to provide a positive activity that was free,” said Anita Morris, with the Western Tidewater Community Services Board. “Play a little basketball, sneak a little workshop on them.”

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After the children were done playing basketball, they split into groups and rotated among workshops focusing on gang prevention, drug abuse prevention, and healthy lifestyle choices.

Teko Wynder, a WTCSB prevention specialist and former Philadelphia 76ers player, has seen firsthand the results of poor lifestyle choices. He talks to teens who already are in jail for their choices.

“They don’t smile,” he said. “These are the kids who made negative choices. If we can reach our kids at a young age, hopefully we can prevent these things.”

Wynder spoke to the children after their games about how they can make positive choices.

“We want them living a positive and clean lifestyle,” he said. “We use sports as a carrot to draw them in.”

Ed Young, head coach of the varsity basketball team at Nansemond River High School, was invited by Wynder to speak to the children, something he loves.

“I love being in front of the kids and working with them,” he said. “I like teaching them to be a better person and student, not just player.”

Young said any activity that invests in children’s futures is worthwhile.

“Prevention’s better than incarceration,” he said, adding that the community services board’s involvement was “tremendous.”

Morris said the board hopes to sponsor such an activity again next year.

For more information about the Western Tidewater Community Services Board, call 255-7102.