Gov. Chris Christie has launched a new Just Play initiative to help urban youngsters and their families get better after-school options.

Shaquille O’Neal, Gov. Chris Christie & Camden Mayor Dana Reed (David Matthau, Townsquare Media NJ)

The plan calls for the creation of networks of extracurricular support for New Jersey youth.

"This program is focused on prevention, deterring youth from becoming involved in bad behavior. We're creating networks so we can better connect the many existing after school and community programs, cause there's lots of them that are both government affiliated and affiliated with the private sector," said Christie.

To accomplish this goal, the state is making $500,000 available in funding for organizations to coordinate and support the initiative.

Christie says it shouldn't matter where kids live in the Garden State. "If a child has a big enough dream, we should be able to give them the tools to achieve that dream if they're willing to work hard enough to do it.  If we lose them to gang violence and drugs their dreams and lives will be snuffed out."

NBA legend Shaquille O'Neal will serve as New Jersey's statewide Just Play ambassador, and will help to recruit other professional athlete youth ambassadors for other Garden State cities.