COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL)— With crime on the rise in Columbus, local leaders are joining together to work towards keeping our youth safe. One church is doing that one free throw at a time.

“You want crime to go down? More programs like this,” Marvin Broadwater Sr., the Chairman of Youth Ministry at Canaan Baptist Church said. Broadwater says he first pitched the idea of a Church Youth Basketball League two months ago.

“When it comes to crime, if you give kids something positive to do, that’s when you have less crime. If you don’t have anything for them to do that’s positive, they’re going to get in trouble,” Broadwater said.

Broadwater is not the only one who has noticed the rise in crime involving youth. Even players of the team recognize the violence that is happening around them.

“Basketball is one of my favorite sports. Then for them to do all of this for the kids, it means a lot for us,” Tyren McClinton said. “Keeping us off the streets, like the drugs and violence going on right now, it is keeping us from all that.”

“It kept me focused, out the streets, and closer to God,” Jeremiah Gaines said.

“It’s just something to keep us out of trouble. It’s good to have something to do,” Jocelyn Gaines said.

The idea of the league was pitched shortly after nine youth were injured in a shooting on Warm Springs Road. All were under 18, the youngest five years old. One of the injured youths was 15 years old. He was arrested and charged in the shooting.

Broadwater says he was tired of watching Columbus’ youth go through life without God in their lives.

“We have all these kids that are bottom line off the street. They are doing something positive, and they look forward to the game on Saturday,” Broadwater said. “So, they are coming to practice. There is only one prerequisite for playing in this league, and that is to come to church every Sunday. “

The league has done nothing but grow. What started in one Columbus church has spread into three other churches in Cusetta and Buena Vista.

April 29th marked their first game. More than 100 players came out for a Christian-filled day of fun, food, and fellowship. Their next game is this upcoming Saturday, May 13th. Doors are set to open at 10 a.m. More information on the upcoming game and contact information for Canaan Baptist Church can be found below.

Contact Information

2835 Branton Woods Drive, Columbus, GA 31907

Tel: (706) 561-7618