PORTSMOUTH, Va. – As residents of Portsmouth deal with gun violence and its effects, one organization wants the public to know they are working hard to keep youth on the right track.
The Boys and Girls Club of Portsmouth works with children ages 6-18 years. It offers after-school programs and summer camps.
“It creates that link between school and home where kids don’t necessarily have to go back to their neighborhood and feel like they don’t have anything to do,” said Maurice Nelson, director of the Boys and Girls Club of Portsmouth.
Touring around the facility, you will find many activities, including a basketball court, a recording studio, a swimming pool, a video game room and more. Nelson said they also do field trips and offer a mentorship program to help maturing teens.
“We’re able to start plugging those concepts and things into them at such a young age, and you know, we’re able to watch them grow and become valuable citizens and valuable to their community and do a lot of good things,” Nelson explained.
One club member is Christian Saunders, who said, “It’s like a second family, a second home to me, and it’s a place where like all my worries go away and I can just chill out and have fun.”
The Boys and Girls Club is about to start summer camp, and as of Wednesday afternoon, there was still availability for children to join.
For those who may want to help, the organization recruits volunteers and mentors who can help the children with a variety of skills that could help them become responsible young adults. To find out more or make a donation, click here.
News 3 reporter Leondra Head also spoke to Portsmouth community activist Darrell Redmond. His non-profit, Give Back to Da Block, steers kids away from crime.
"Anytime a shooting happens, we all lose. We have to become proactive instead of reactive," Redmond said.
Redmond tells Head how he’s taking a proactive approach by reaching kids at a young age
"In partnership with Portsmouth’s Parks and Recreation, we’ll be doing a summer program there. We'll offer mentorships, arts and crafts, vision boards and conflict resolution," Redmond said.
Redmond says that summer program with Parks and Recreation will be starting later this month to give kids in the city a positive outlet this summer.