Community Issues

NYC to Expand 'Saturday Night Lights' Program to Help Keep Kids off Streets

After they saw how successful the program was, the city will grow its initiative to help keep kids out of trouble.


As a young person, it might not be your first thought to spend your Saturday night hanging out with police officers. But kids in New York City are doing just that as part of the "Saturday Night Lights" program, where school gyms open late all over the city for kids to take part in sports and other recreational activities.

Check out the video below to watch an SNL participant rehearse for an upcoming dance-off:

The youth violence prevention program is funded by the city's District Attorney's office, mainly from funds that have been seized by police from banks that participated in fraud. Organizers say that the program has helped over 12,000 kids in Manhattan over the last eight years. Now, the program is expanding to all five boroughs in hopes of keeping more kids off the streets at night.

"It's turning criminal dollars into community activity and program development," Manhattan D.A. Cy Vance told WLNY-TV. "What could be a better statement than to say to those who are committing crimes, we're going to take what you've done and we're going to make it positive for our neighborhood."

Saturday Night Lights Facebook

The programs are all free and academic support and youth advocacy resources are offered to families that need it. Paul Jeffries, the director of community development for the New York Football club, says the results of the initiative have been exceptional.

"One hundred percent of the kids graduate high school," he said.

Students can choose to take classes in football, basketball, soccer and dance and there are several special events that take place throughout the year featuring DJ's, featured speakers and awards ceremonies. The events and sports nights are supervised by police officers and other members of the community.

Saturday Night Lights Facebook

More information about the program, including schedules, playing times, and sports offerings for each site, is available on the SNL website.

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