A youth summer basketball program that started last year in Melrose Park will expand into Fallon Park this year, Roanoke Councilman Sherman Lea and Roanoke police said Wednesday.
The Lea’s Youth Outdoor Basketball League aims to strengthen ties between adolescents and the officers who patrol their community. Police serve as referees, organizers and coaches.
Engaging youth is part of the police department’s shift over the past few years from traditional to non-traditional forms of policing.
“The support we saw from the community last year at Melrose Park was encouraging,” Lea said in a statement. “This league brought the community together to celebrate our young people.”
Lea said the league is open to children ages 11 to 18. The program will start the first week of June and run five weeks. Games will be held on Tuesdays and Thursdays at Melrose Park, and Wednesdays at Fallon Park.
Each game will end with what Lea calls a “quality moment” — a 15-minute session where basketball coaches, community leaders and others discuss self-esteem and life skills. Last year’s speakers included Shannon Taylor, a former NFL player who coaches North Cross School’s girls varsity basketball team.
Registration will be held at Melrose Park and Fallon Park between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. April 23.