ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB) - It is summer time and while kids are enjoying the time off of school, eventually boredom kicks in. Unfortunately, according to some community leaders, this sometimes leads to a spike in crime.
Some city council members in Alexandria, and other community members, held an event on Thursday to keep kids in the area engaged in a fun way.
"It's been good,” said D.J., a young basketball player. “It keeps me focused, it keeps me doing the right thing, and keeps me on track."
D.J. usually would not have anything to do on a hot summer day, but on Thursday, he spent his time playing basketball at Mt. Triumph Baptist Church.
The event was held by members of the Stop the Violence Movement. It was part of their summer initiative called Operation Ceasefire Cenla. Part of that includes a basketball league. The goal is to keep kids busy and off the streets.
"If it wasn't here, I think a lot of kids would be getting in trouble and ending up in jail," said D.J.
Reverend Randy Harris of Mt. Triumph told us he understands the need for events like these, and he urges other churches to open up their doors to help this cause.
"The summer months are months when crimes are very high,” said Rev. Harris. “Kids are out of school, they have very little to do."
Many teams from churches and communities around Central Louisiana met on the court. One basketball player, Dekayevion Dunbar, said he enjoys practicing and playing in scrimmages.
"The coach had us doing a little extra running drills, scrimmages, and stuff like that," said Dunbar.
However, according to his coach, Napoleon Johnson, the event is more than just teaching them how to play basketball.
"Not only am I trying to teach basketball skills, but I'm also going to teach them about life in general,” said Johnson, “If you do not work hard and follow the rules and regulations of the game then you’re not going to follow the rules and regulations of life. And if you don't follow the rules and regulations then you're going to end up somewhere in a bad situation that you don't want to be in."
With violent events happening both locally and nationally, this is the group’s way to keep these kids constructive rather than destructive.
"We don't want to be like Chicago or Orlando where we have senseless acts of crimes taking place, or even New Orleans,” said Rev. Harris. “We don't want that here."
”Life is real,” said Councilman Jules Green. "It's not a video game where you can hit reset."
Another part of Operation Ceasefire is keeping guns off the streets. This involves the group holding gun buy backs. They also hold weekly anger management and conflict resolution classes for the kids.