The children of Kids-U at Jackson/Park Ninety Six 90 Branch Apartments in the Forest-Audelia area were thrilled upon the unveiling of a new learning center, where Tuesday afternoon they were greeted by Dallas Maverick Devin Harris. The Mavs Foundation, the team’s nonprofit arm, made the remodel possible.
“I was amazed,” says 7th grader British (who we interviewed for a story about Kids-U’s crime and code mapping project) of the revamped space. He’s not really a basketball fan, he says; the excitement came from “all I saw, I mean, the walls, the pictures. Everything. It looked like that before,” he says, pointing to a “before” poster on display depicting a bland, beige room, “and look at it now.”
The center fills the space of an extra-large apartment unit, includes multiple rooms filled with computers, games, puzzles and books. Mavs jerseys and motivational art adorn the walls. Harris placed his big basketball-player handprint at the top of a tree mural up front, autographed the wall, then lifted child after child so they could make their own marks.
Kids-U is an afterschool initiative embedded in several Dallas apartment communities where families and working parents tend to reside. Lake Highlands is home to seven of 10 Kids-U sites. Lake Highlands resident Diana Baker co-founded the nonprofit in 2002.
In May several Kids-U participants, including British — I can’t overstate how exceptional this young man is — recently made the trip to Dallas City Hall to point out problems in their neighborhoods to city council representatives.
Learn more about Kids-U locations and how you might get involved here.