Allendale Community coalition to sponsor summer reading clinic & basketball camp.
Pastor C.E. McLain speaks on behalf of local clergymen, educators and concerned Allendale Community residents at the press conference announcing the Hopkins, Johnson, Winn Summer Reading Clinic and Basketball Camp. The basketball camp, for boys only, will be held at Little Union Baptist Church and on the Booker T. Washington High School campus. Organizers look to involve notable Northwest Louisiana basketball standouts such as Stromile Swift, Willis Reed, and Karl Malone to participate in the program.
The program will be officially known as the Hopkins, Johnson, Winn Summer Reading Clinic and Basketball Camp. The camp is named in honor of Mrs. Balistine Hopkins; Bishop Joseph Johnson, of the CME Church, who the organizer’s credit as an international scholar; and for Terrance Winn, a local youth murdered five years ago at the age of 16.
Organizers feel that through harnessing the intellectual and physical energy of local youth the clinic and camp could produce a number of benefits. At a press conference held last week, they said that the program will look to promote continual reading throughout the summer which they hope will reduce the “regression” of skills while young people are out of school over the summer break. Organizers also hope to reach out to youth in the Allendale Community in hopes of exposing them to new reading materials and instilling a sense of self-value in participants. The basketball camp looks to provide a safe environment for exercise and learning sportsmanship.
Speaking at the press conference, Pastor C.E. McLain of the Little Union Baptist Church, on behalf of organizers of the program, emphasized the importance of the effort for the community and the city. “We are residents, church members and pastors of this community and have a vested interest in this city and in particular the Allendale community. Allendale is one of the 17 inner city communities … (and) is one of the most deteriorating and depressed.” Pastor McLain and other Allendale clergymen said there is a dire need to engage young people in this community to the point where they will not fall prey to the negative pitfalls that have existed over the years.
“As we continue to build on the legacy of Hopkins, Johnson, and Winn we realize that in order to build on this legacy that we must unify our efforts,” Pastor Curtis West of Lane Chapel C.M.E. Church said. “Today we stand in unity and harmony with one another to say that together we are going to make a difference. Thank God for this effort. We ask our community to continue to join in, and let’s make this happen.”
Balistine Hopkins Jr. also emphasized the necessity of the program. “My mother would have been honored to be a part of this program where the churches in this community are pooling together to make a difference.” She said one in five black men are in prison in today, and that the clinic and camp can serve as a local foundation to help change these staggering statistics that confront young people.
Booker T. Washington High School Principal Patrick Greer was present at the press conference, and commented, “I think that this is a win-win for us. This will encourage current and future students to develop a love for reading. We know that there is a respect for the athletic aspect of the program, but we will also be promoting the academic side of the equation.”