SPOKANE, Wash.- With the first day of school just around the corner, summer youth programs are winding down. The Spokane Police Department held a celebration Thursday for the few dozen students who spent the summer hitting the basketball courts with officers.
Volunteers handed out backpacks filled with school supplies, and a basketball, to each student who played in the first year of the Spokane Police Youth Athletic League.
Ruth White, mom of a 13-year-old basketball player, said she is grateful for opportunities to keep her child off the streets.
“I would rather him be more busy than have all this extra free time. Because, all that free time does nothing but get you involved in things or get in trouble with the law,” said White.
Young players on eight teams learned how to dribble, pass, and shoot with the help of the police department and local church leaders every Thursday this summer.
Officers said a common misconception for the at-risk youth is that police only come to their communities to arrest someone.
Next year, SPD leaders hope to expand the program to other communities in the city and add more sports to the league.