Trying to rebound from violence with hoops program


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Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh, center, P.A.L. officials and Campos Plaza leaders announcing the new program in the complex’s gym.

On Tuesday, Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh, City Councilmember Rosie Mendez, state Senator Daniel Squadron, Congressmember Nydia Velazquez, the Police Athletic League, the New York City Housing Authority and community leaders announced the opening of an intensive new basketball, recreation and counseling program at the East Village’s Campos Plaza public housing development.

Starting Dec. 9, the free program will be offered on Monday, Wednesday and Friday evenings, providing a safe and positive environment, and encouraging productive activities for local youth ages 14 to 19.

Responding to a string of high-profile crimes involving local youth, including the Oct. 16 murder of Keith Salgado in Campos Plaza’s courtyard, local elected officials have been meeting with P.A.L., NYCHA, the Lower East Side Youth Development Initiative and Campos Plaza’s Youth Council and Tenants Association and local leaders to address youth violence.

Kavanagh, Squadron, Mendez and Velazquez all represent Campos Plaza.

Kavanagh said, “Crime prevention requires a cooperative, continuous and citywide effort involving not only effective policing, but also alternative opportunities and constructive activities for young people. Together, we are bringing an exceptional basketball training program to our community that will provide just such an opportunity.

“We cannot undo the tragedies that have occurred here, but this community is committed to doing everything we can to stop the violence and move forward.”
Kavanagh said he was proud to stand with his fellow elected officials, the P.A.L. and community leaders, but especially Aida Salgado, Keith’s mother, “whose resolve in the face of an unthinkable tragedy in her own family is profoundly inspiring.”

“By providing constructive activities and a safe space, the new P.A.L. Teen Impact Center is a critical step toward protecting our kids and our community,” said Squadron. “May this program honor the memory of Keith Salgado and help prevent senseless tragedies like the one that took his life.”

Velazquez said, “Through this Teen Impact Center, countless lives will be touched, and countless young people will have a meaningful, alternative experience to support and engage them.”

Alana Sweeney, P.A.L. executive director, said, “Led by trained professionals, the youth will be exposed to workshops designed to help them make positive decisions in their daily lives. If a teen is off the street, having fun and learning in the presence of positive role models, they are not outside getting into trouble.”

P.A.L. operates 15 Impact Centers in high-crime areas in the five boroughs.

Jeffrey Solomon, founder of L.E.S. Youth Development Initiative, said, “I first met 7-year-old Donavan Salgado at the Boys’ Club of New York. It gladdens my heart to see the community coming together in this way. Keith went to school every day this year. Let’s encourage all our kids to do the same. His friends have promised to play basketball in his honor as ‘Team Keith.’ Let’s support them and move forward together. Together we will stop the violence.”

Aida Salgado said, “We can never forget and we can never condone the senseless violence that took Keith away from us and that continues to tear our city apart. … We call on our young people from Smith to Campos and all points between to join together to stop the violence.”

DeReese Huff, Campos Plaza T.A. president, said, “Our kids have seen it all, including many despicable acts of violence. It is time for a change.”

An open house for parents and teens to learn more about the program will be held Fri., Dec. 9, at 5 p.m. at Campos Plaza Community Center, 611 E. 13th St. (between Avenues B and C).