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HOUSTON – In recognition of the Martin Luther King holiday and in the spirit of which it was founded, the Harris County – Houston Sports Authority assisted with setting up a “behind the scenes” tour at Toyota Center for eight Mississippi teens and two chaperones.  The group will meet up with the Rockets staff and tour the facilities at 6pm, before their attendance of a Rockets game on Saturday, January 19, 2008.

The kids are in Houston Saturday through Monday, participating in the Sunflower County Freedom Project.  A film festival of sorts, where these eight teens will showcase the videos they have worked on all semester, at the Live Oak Shape Community Center on Saturday afternoon at 4pm.  The videos produced by each student have a civil rights aspect incorporated with a theme of “The Choice is Yours.”  These public school children have learned through an after-school and summer program, or academic boot camp called Sunflower Freedom, that there truly is power of choice and their films are designed to teach people how to make better choices by empowering themselves through knowledge.

Sunflower Freedom is a non-profit organization in Mississippi that reaches out to “at-risk” children, beginning in 6th grade and following them through high school graduation.  For a position in the six year program, each child must apply, interview, and ultimately make a commitment to stay in school and follow certain guidelines through the signing of a contract with their parents involvement.

Currently the Sunflower Freedom program has approximately 100 participating students.  Eight of the 100 students were given video equipment and taught production skills, enabling them to participate in the special trip to Houston for the film festival scheduled around Martin Luther King day.  “Touring Toyota Center and attending a Rockets game is a special treat for these kids” stated Janis Schmees, Executive Director of the Harris County – Houston Sports Authority.  “Touring a premiere stadium and seeing more people at one game than they have in their entire rural town of 2,500 is exciting for these well deserving teens and we are pleased to be a part of their visit to Houston.”

For more information you can visit their website at  The Harris County – Houston Sports Authority is the agency charged with maintaining and overseeing the debt service of the three state-of-the-art professional sports stadiums.