New Jersey officials and NBA legend Shaquille O'Neal teamed up Thursday to launch the Just Play campaign, a new state initiative that aims to give children in urban areas better after-school options and positive role models.

David Matthau, Townsquare Media NJ

The campaign calls for youth ambassadors for New Jersey’s inner cities, and it will also create networks of extracurricular support, so families can learn about all of the choices available for their kids once school is over in the afternoon.

O’Neal, who is serving as the statewide ambassador, told an audience at the Boys and Girls Club in Camden that when he was young, his mother gave him strict guidance.

“You do what I tell you to do," Shaq quoted his mother as saying, "you go to Boys and Girls Club and work hard, play hard, you be a leader and not a follower, and anything can come true.”

Shaq also told the crowd, “The time is now for this generation. They need us, and we can’t turn our back on 'em.”

The Just Play program asks children to pledge to stay in school, achieve great things and avoid violence.