Youth Center Opens Early Amid Rise in Violence

Justin Pazera

Youth Center Opens Early Amid Rise in Violence

CREATED Apr. 21, 2013

Omaha, NE -- Nyuot Pan loves basketball. "Yeah, I'm good. I'm decent basically," said Pan. He's been practicing since third grade. He's been playing at Omaha's Bryant Center since last year. The love of the game keeps him coming back.

"The fundamentals. You've got to play together to win," said the 15 year-old. It's that team work staff at the Bryant Center are trying to instill in young people. With so many negative influences on kids, the goal is to keep kids busy and focused. "If we don't, they find things to get into," said Mike Rice, the center's executive director.  "We'd rather have it a little bit more structured. For example, our basketball program - instead of them just playing basketball, we actually have officials."

And the program works. Last year more than 150 kids signed up. They play basketball, learn karate, there's a computer lab, all in a secure environment. It's a lot for a young person to get excited about. "Before I would even get out of my car, they would already be at my car ready to sign up and play basketball," said volunteer Brandy Carter.

The center is open three days a week in the evening, a peak time when kids don't have much to do. But it's the most productive time for the program truly changing lives. Last year the center welcomed a few new players who obviously needed guidance. "There attitudes weren't the best," said Carter. "But as the program went on they changed. They definitely changed."