The Cheyenne River Youth Project announced today that it will officially kick off the summer season of Midnight Basketball on Friday, June 2 at 9 p.m. The popular, long-running teen program is made possible by support from the Diabetes Action Research and Education Foundation (DARE) and the Nike N7 Fund.
After a four-year pandemic hiatus, CRYP brought back Midnight Basketball earlier this spring as a monthly offering. Starting with the June 2 event, it will run weekly until the start of the new school year (except one week before and one week after the RedCan invitational graffiti jam).
“We’ve offered Midnight Basketball for more than a quarter century, and over the years, we’ve learned how important it is to our kids here on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation,” said Jerica Widow, CRYP’s programs director. “It’s not just about playing basketball, although the physical activity definitely is important. It’s also about having a safe space on a Friday night to socialize with friends and engage with mentors and positive role models.”
Sixty-eight teens enjoyed this month’s installment of Midnight Basketball on May 12. From 9 p.m. to 1 a.m., the young people enjoyed tournament games and half-court shots, and CRYP staff provided a fully stocked taco bar for nourishment.
It was a busy evening for the grassroots, nonprofit youth organization, which also hosted a music production class and open-mic event for teens at 4-6 p.m. At the helm was Talon Bazille Ducheneaux, a Cheyenne River Lakota and Crow Creek Dakota rap artist, producer and sound designer. Bazille, as he is known, will be a featured performer at the 9th annual RedCan event this July.
“This was a wonderful opportunity for our kids to explore their creativity with sound and spoken word,” Widow said. “We’re grateful to First Peoples Fund’s Emerging Poets for supporting this program, and to DARE and the Nike N7 Fund for supporting Midnight Basketball. There aren’t many places for kids to go on a Friday evening, and we were honored to welcome so many youth to our Čhokáta Wičhóni (Center of Life) teen center on May 12.”
CRYP created Midnight Basketball in 1996, seeking to give Cheyenne River’s young people a safe, positive, drug- and alcohol-free environment to play their favorite sport, hang out with friends, get something to eat, and stay up past the city of Eagle Butte’s 10 p.m. curfew. The program succeeded well beyond the staff’s original vision, attracting 50 to 100 teens to each event.
Over the years, local law enforcement reported that community-wide crime rates fell on Midnight Basketball nights. The program also helped build the foundation for CRYP’s Native wellness programming, which focuses on healthy lifestyle choices, personal responsibility, teamwork and positive self-esteem.
To learn more about the Cheyenne River Youth Project and its programs, and for information about making donations and volunteering, call (605) 964-8200 or visit www.lakotayouth.org. And, to stay up to date on the latest CRYP news and events, follow the youth project on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.
The Cheyenne River Youth Project, founded in 1988, is a grassroots, not-for-profit organization dedicated to providing the youth of the Cheyenne River reservation with access to a vibrant and secure future through a wide variety of culturally sensitive and enduring programs, projects and facilities that ensure strong, self-sufficient families and communities.