Winnipeg basketball giveaway aims to keep kids on the court, out of trouble

A new initiative meant to get kids excited about the game of basketball launched Friday night in Winnipeg.

Organizer hands out basketballs Friday in North End at Meet Me at the Bell Tower meeting

A 1,000 basketballs were given away Friday as part of a new initiative meant to encourage youth in Winnipeg to get into the game. (CBC)

A new initiative meant to get North End youth excited about the game of basketball launched Friday night in Winnipeg's North End.
Lenard Monkman is the organizer behind the basketball giveaway. He said the sport kept him busy seven days a week in his teens, and he wants to pass on that positive influence to kids in Winnipeg's North End. (CBC)
Monkman was handing basketballs out to to youth at the Meet Me at the Bell Tower meeting in the North End Friday night. (Lenard Monkman)

Lenard Monkman is organizing the initiative. He's handing out free basketballs in hopes of getting inner-city youth interested in playing the sport, and in the process, keeping them involved in something positive.

"I think basketball is one of the best ways to keep kids out of trouble," said Monkman. "It's a team-building sport; it's a leadership-building sport; it gives the kids an opportunity to do something different and hopefully it creates some positive vibes for the community."

Monkman grew up in the North End and said basketball helped him stay focused. 

"It's really a chance for kids to be healthy, get out and stay out of trouble," said Monkman. "So basically what it will be is an anti-gang strategy without calling it that ... it  keeps kids safe throughout the summer."

Monkman said his long-term goal is to create a basketball league in the North End.

Monkman and others gave away 10 balls Friday night at the weekly Meet Me at the Bell tower gathering in the North End. Another 100 will be given away at an upcoming basketball game between North End community members and members of the Winnipeg Police Service May 31.



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