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Portsmouth community comes together to combat gun violence with basketball game

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Posted at 10:48 PM, Mar 19, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-19 22:57:24-04

PORTSMOUTH, Va. - A basketball game bringing the community together in Portsmouth.

16-year-old Karsim Woods says he’s seen it all.

"Black on Black crime and kids getting shot and stuff. I was like I’m going to go ahead and play because I feel like it’s for a good cause," Woods said.

The Portsmouth native was the youngest player who played alongside community leaders and pastors.

"I was kind of mad because I didn’t make any shots. You win some. You lose some," Woods said.

Community activist, Barry Randall, felt it was important to give the community an outlet.

"We have too many senseless shootings and killings all across the seven cities," Randall said. "So we are bringing pastors and community leaders together to get the attention of not only the children but the parents to say ‘Hey, what can we do to allow our children to be able to leave out the door to go outside and play a game of basketball or go to the park.' Do things that kids do without the fear of getting shot and killed."

Portsmouth school board member Vernon Tillage Jr. says crime weighs heavy on students.

"Unfortunately, the gun violence that’s in our community is not only plaguing them at home but it’s also hurting them in our schools," Tillage said.

What is the Portsmouth school system doing to help students combat gun violence?

"We’ve started a program called ‘Here to Help’. Here to help is a counseling program for our staff and students who may need help with any counseling or grieving," Tillage tells News 3's Leondra Head.

Tillage says Portsmouth schools will be investing more into students' mental health.

"This fiscal year, our budget is coming up and we’re investing more money in mental health so that we can bring in the proper resources, training, and people with certifications to actually address the needs of students and staff," Tillage said.