By David Madden
CAMDEN, N.J. (CBS) — Kids in New Jersey will be urged to “Just Play” after school ends each day.
That’s the name of a new statewide program aimed at giving kids in troubled urban areas something to do until their parents come home each day.
The kickoff this afternoon featured some high-powered endorsements.
Governor Chris Christie is setting aside $500,000 to get the program going. He insists the hours of 3pm to 6pm each afternoon can make the difference between a kid growing up right and heading down a troubled path.
“If we lose them to gang violence, if we lose them to drugs, then the ability for them to achieve their dreams is going to be snuffed out,” Christie said. “And in the worst cases, their lives will be snuffed out.”
He was joined by NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal at the East Camden Boys & Girls Club.
O’Neal is a product of the Newark branch of the Boys & Girls Club, and he credits their intervention with helping to keep him out of trouble.
Shaq will serve as a statewide ambassador of Just Play, looking to get other sports stars to show that after school activities are actually cool.