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'Meet me at the Court' takes off in El Dorado neighborhood

An El Dorado, Ark., woman has launched a neighborhood motivational speaker series that is held on a basketball court. The idea for “Meet Me at the Court” came to Veronica "Tonni" Bailey in a dream when her late sister told her to look after the children who live in El Dorado’s St. Louis neighborhood. Bailey said she decided to start a program in the precise location where children congregate.

“That basketball court is always full of children," Bailey said. "I wanted an environment where I knew the kids would love to come to, and where I would be able to find them."

Six months later, Meet Me at the Court has brought out dozens of adults and children to hear inspiring speeches from young and old. Bailey brought back a Harvard University student who hails from the neighborhood, a track star who became a chaplain for an NFL team, a 10-year-old who aspires to be a paleontologist, and a young girl who excels at golf. Bailey sets up a head table on the court for the speakers and serves a hot meal afterward. She said the neighborhood gathering only retreats indoors in very inclement weather.

“I want us to be able to spread the love, peace and unity throughout the neighborhood -- not just in an inside setting, but on an outside setting," Bailey said.

The next meeting of Meet Me at the Court is set for Dec. 21 from noon to 3 p.m. Santa will hold court and take pictures and gatherers will decorate an angel tree in honor of Bailey’s sister.

Chuck Smith brings more than 30 years' broadcast and media experience to Red River Radio. He began his career as a radio news reporter and transitioned to television journalism and newsmagazine production. Chuck studied mass communications at Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia and motion picture / television production at the University of California at Los Angeles. He has also taught writing for television at York Technical College in Rock Hill, South Carolina and video / film production at Centenary College of Louisiana, Shreveport.