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Cunningham basketball court gets much needed rmakeover

A basketball court at a popular park in Joplin is finally getting a much needed remodel, leaving members of one organization excited, but also in limbo.

The court is packed with teenagers every single night of the week. Clearly not the case tonight, nor will it be for the rest of the summer, due to renovations. But since this serves as a safe place to keep kids off the streets, many are now asking the question: without the court, what will they do?

Hardly a night passes without 40 to 90 teens visiting the basketball court at Cunningham Park.

"I attend it because it's a fun place to go or to play with better athletes that you don't usually see, they'll be there,” says Chol Vaden.

A group called unity in the community is what keeps them coming.

"We're here if they need to talk, we get into a circle every Sunday night together we pray together. If they need back to school supplies, food during the summer... we're just here to provide a safe place for our youth,” says David DuRall.

"Well what David is trying to preach to us is getting kids off the streets for them to stop doing bad things and just to come play basketball,” says Chol Vaden.

But for the last week, playing hasn't been an option. Players requested a new court to replace the slick tile surface, now torn up.

"It's been 7 years so it's getting where it's a little dangerous,” says DuRall.

"Usually the tiles would move and you'd fall and see people fall and sometimes I've heard of people getting hurt,” says Chol Vaden.

The wish is in the process of being granted by the city, and soon there will be fresh pavement.

"The kids are excited, I know it's taking a little longer than what they'd like,” says David DuRall.

The current challenge is keeping the youth preoccupied while the court is under construction.

"Lisa and I are looking into a couple of different places in this area that we can resume on. Unfortunately it won't be an every night thing like we are doing but at least once or maybe twice a week,” says DuRall.

While patience is being tested, Durall thinks the long term benefits from the new court will outweigh the current situation.

"I feel like more people will come up to you know play because it'll be better,” says Chol Vaden.

"We've seen change in attitudes in kids that have been up here. So to me that is success, you know if you can reach one kid then that's success,” says David DuRall.

David tells me they're hoping renovations will eventually go beyond the court. They're looking to add a volleyball court and other activities that will attract even more youth.


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