Friday Night Ballers Concludes Successful Program

(NEW BRITAIN, CT) – “Friday Night Ballers” – a program that helps New Britain students in grades 7-9 make connections to their community by providing a positive environment through the game of basketball on Friday nights at the YMCA – concluded another successful eight-week session with a family event and award ceremony Friday, May 31.

Through a partnership between The Consolidated School District of New Britain and the New Britain-Berlin YMCA, the program welcomes approximately 80 students who may not have a connection to existing programs or sports with a goal of providing opportunities for all. Beyond the 16-game basketball

season, the program features area leaders as guest motivational speakers who present on building camaraderie, positive relationships, self-awareness, and self-pride. The coaches of each team are members of the students’ community - including employees of the school district, former college student-athletes, and even elected officials.

“Friday Night Ballers” also serves as a positive incentive for strong school attendance during the week, as students’ participation in the program is tied to their attendance and behavior. By providing a fun environment for participating students that combines basketball with snacks, engaging speakers, and community members who take an interest in their lives, the program fosters positivity in the classroom throughout the school week by offering the reward of participation in a program where they feel great comfort and confidence.

“It is so important that every student be connected to positive environments beyond school hours,” said Sondra Sanford, District Coordinator of Partnership and Engagement. “This program created an opportunity for these students to make invaluable connections to the community that instill pride in who they are and where they’re from. We are so appreciative of our partnership with the YMCA for providing this positive environment for our students on Friday nights.”

Carlos and Janice Pina run the program. Mrs. Pina is the Assistant Principal at Slade Middle School and Mr. Pina works at Platt High School in Meriden, where he ran a similar program to great success. “It’s just so great to see these kids make friendships they might not otherwise have made,” said Mr. Pina. “We hope to continue this program in the future because we are seeing it make a difference in every aspect of the kids’ lives.”