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NIAGARA FALLS – A basketball and character-building program aimed at involving young people in something positive will make its home in Niagara Falls for a second straight year.

The Game Changers program starts Friday night and will run for eight weeks in the Niagara Falls Boys & Girls Club on 17th Street.

Sponsored by federal and local law enforcement agencies along with other community organizations, the program will teach participants basketball skills, as well as offering motivational sessions from prominent local figures and athletes, including Greg Gamble and Modie Cox, who played high school basketball in the Falls and went on to play at the University at Buffalo.

The program’s goals include preventing youth violence and reducing crime.

“We can’t prosecute our way out of all the problems that plague our cities today,” said J.P. Kennedy, First Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Western District of New York.

The program is for girls and boys ages 9 to 18 at all skill levels of basketball. The weekly sessions will include basketball and life-skill instruction, as well as other fitness activities. The program requires that a parent or guardian sign a waiver for children to participate. To sign up, visit the Boys & Girls Club at 725 17th St. or visit nfbgc.org.

Participants in the program will be eligible to win one of five free passes to the Niagara University’s men’s head coach Chris Casey’s basketball camp in August. The final night of the program will be held at Niagara University and will include a recognition ceremony and tours of the Lewiston campus.

More than 100 students participated in last year’s program, which was held at the Packard Court Community Center.

Sponsoring agencies include the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Niagara Falls Police Department and Kids Escaping Drugs.

email: abesecker@buffnews.com