Roanoke City Councilman Sherman Lea thanks Life Ring Foundation President Kelly Woolwine for being a major sponsor of the Lea Youth Outdoor Basketball League.

Lea and Life Ring are partnering with the Roanoke police department and Inner City Athletic Association, Roanoke city schools and the YMCA to start an outdoor summer basketball program. The league is open registration to all youth living in the city of Roanoke who are between the ages of 11 and 18. Councilman Lea states, “This is just not another summer basketball league. All games will be played in the outdoor courts at Melrose Park. At the end of each day session, we will bring all participants together for 15 minutes of what is being called a ‘Quality Moment’. Leading citizens in our community, former athletes, college coaches and others will talk to our young boys and girls about core values in life, discipline, respect and the importance of decision making and high self-esteem.”

The LYOB presents an opportunity for the youth and their families to build positive relationships with police officers in their community, one that may never have been available before. While other programs exist within the community to help at-risk youth, there are few programs with an emphasis on forging connections with youth and the law enforcement community. The recent incidents in Ferguson, Missouri, and Baltimore, Maryland, turned a spotlight on the relationship, or in some cases the lack thereof, between law enforcement and the community they protect. The Lea youth outdoor basketball league addresses this problem by providing a venue for youth/juveniles and their families to interact with officers outside of the law enforcement environment. Officers will be participating as volunteers, as clock operators, coaches and just helping out wherever they can. The mission is to build bridges and form new and stronger connections.