HAMPTON, Va. (WAVY) – A Hampton organization is working to take back its community by keeping kids off the streets.
“I’m trying to save a life every single day,” said Yolanda Earl, Vice President of Stop and Pop Youth Sports Charities.
The backyard of a very unassuming Hampton home on Harriett Street could hold the key to cutting down crime. Everyday, young people from the neighborhood flock here for security.
“Having a place that they can come and know that they will be safe and know that they are going to be okay is very important,” Earl added.
In 2013, non-profit organization Stop and Pop Youth Sports Charities was formed. Founder Jamen Mainor took his family and made it into an after school center for kids.
“The first thing you do when you arrive here is get you snack,” Earl said. “After you get your snack, then you sit down from 4:30 until you’re completed and you do your homework.”
College students serve as tutors and mentors. Once the work is done, it’s play time. Out back, there is an NBA size basketball court surrounded by walls.
“As a parent, you automatically worry,” mother Zabrina Locker said.
Locker has three teenagers. She knows there are dangers outside the walls. Young people are being killed every day.
“I’m hoping they don’t have to experience that from one of their friends,” Locker added. “Hopefully they stay out of trouble.”
Most days, you’ll find 15-year-old Jamal Swiney right on the court.
“It’s good for me,” Swiney said. “I am able to practice and I get somewhere I can stay out of trouble.”
Everyone here knows trouble is easy to find, but you won’t find it behind these walls.
“It gives them something else to do than just hanging out in the street,” Locker added.
Stop and Pop isn’t just limiting itself to that backyard. Organizers have planned a community unity day in November, which takes place at Mill Point Park, located at 100 Eaton Street, on November 6 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.