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Christ the King High School welcomes kids from Queensbridge nonprofit for basketball camp

Aug. 9, 2023 By Ethan Marshall

Thanks in large part to an anonymous donation, more than a dozen kids between the ages of 9 and 13 from Operation Safe Block Inc. participated in a four-week-long basketball camp held by Christ the King High School in Middle Village. The participants got to meet and play the game with other campers and work to improve their skills.


Photo courtesy of Carl Alston

According to Operation Safe Block Director Carl Alston, it is important for these kids to be able to spend their days at this camp. It helps to keep them off the streets, where they could potentially be exposed to violence. The camp also emphasizes good decision-making and problem-solving life skills.


Photo courtesy of Carl Alston

“It’s a good space for them and a great experience,” Alston said. “The thing we try to do [at Operation Safe Block] is keep them busy early on and get them focused on what they need to be focused on. If there are gyms available, kids need to be in the gym. If kids are in the gym, they’re off the streets. If kids are off the streest, they wouldn’t be getting into the trouble posed there. It’s all about keeping them in a good space and engaged in the things they’re interested in. Once the streets get a hold of them, it’s a long, hard road.”


Photo courtesy of Carl Alston

The basketball camp is run by Christ the King High School Men’s Basketball Head Coach Joseph Arbitello. He estimates that at least 225 kids take part in the camp each week. Of the approximately 40 coaches and 10 administrators helping to run the camp, many of the players on the school’s basketball team take on this role.


Photo courtesy of Carl Alston

Arbitello doesn’t just limit his teachings to basketball. He also stresses the importance of academics to these kids. In fact, he has the kids bring in their report cards and rewards those with the best grades. He believes this, combined with the players being on hand, helps to provide the kids with a glimpse into their potential future if they keep their lives on a good track.

In addition to playing basketball games with each other, the kids also spend their days at Christ the King Basketball Camp participating in contests as well as individual workouts. Arbitello estimates that the kids play three or four games each day, along with taking part in drills meant to improve their skills .

“It feels great personally to me [to be able to help these kids, including those from Operation Safe Block],” Arbitello said. “They come in every morning so happy that they make me happy. It makes you feel like you’re doing the right thing.”

For the young coaches helping to teach these kids, Arbitello said this presents a great work experience. He also emphasized the importance of them being able to mentor these kids, who may one day find themselves doing the same thing in the future. According to Arbitello, this camp helps these young coaches grow at least as much as the kids.

Arbitello played for the school’s basketball team as a student from 1991-95. In 1997, he joined the team’s coaching staff. He’s held the head coach position for the last 15 seasons.

The kids from the camp were also visited by New Orleans Pelicans point guard and Christ the King High School alumni Jose Alvarado.


Kids from Christ the King Basketball Camp with Jose Alvarado of the NBA’s New Orleans Pelicans. Photo courtesy of Carl Alston

According to Nahree Haynes of Operation Safe Block, attending this camp is a great opportunity for the kids from the organization. He noted the prestigious reputation of the high school and the privilege of being able to walk in there and play on the school’s court.

“[These kids] use basketball as a tool and vehicle to transport themselves to other places and it presents scholastic and job opportunities,” Haynes said. “This particular group of kids serve as an example and inspiration for the other kids at Operation Safe Block. This camp is something that they all now look forward to. They want their opportunity as well. This is our first time partnering with Christ the King, but it sure won’t be the last.”

Haynes also runs a youth summer basketball league. He said the league’s main goal is to help raise great young men and women, regardless of their circumstances.

Operation Safe Block Inc. aims to keep kids out of trouble by providing them with a safe space and positive environment where they can play, hang out and socialize with each other.

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