By Kendall McGee | March 12, 2021 at 6:32 PM EST – Updated March 12 at 6:53 PM
WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) – A 23-year-old was shot and killed Wednesday afternoon, just blocks away from where kids at the Community Boys and Girls Club play.
Leaders with the program heard the shots as they were picking up students to bring them to the facility for the afternoon.
The gun violence problem is a national one and it’s not a new one, either. Unit director Jarrett Gattison says he sees the kids getting involved in the violence keep getting younger and younger.
“It just makes our job here at Community Boys and Girls Club that much more important and effective. What we do is try to come up with programs and things to combat the violence that’s going on around the Wilmington area,” said Gattison.
It’s one reason why they’re launching a new teen program next month centered around basketball. It’s fitting, given it’s the same organization where legend Michael Jordan spent much of his time before his hall of fame career in the NBA.
The Boys and Girls Club held a basketball league this fall that proved to be very popular, and this one promises to be bigger, reaching close to 100 young people.
“A lot of the crime that’s going on is happening through the hours of 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. when they’re out of school, they’re not doing something, they’re not attached to a program, so what we wanted to do was to come up with something to get them involved, something they love,” said Gattison. “We actually ran a fall league that was extremely successful; we had seven teams come and be part of it and during that time there were no shootings, no violence in that that age group.”
The opportunity to play in the league means something to 15-year-old Kamonte Carter.
“It’s my favorite sport, I love basketball, so seeing a basketball program like this in Wilmington was really good for me, so I can actually show my skills and be able to be a part of something that I really like,” said Carter.
The Boys and Girls Club has worked double time during the pandemic to offer open gyms, meals, tutoring opportunities and get more kids through the doors as students have increasingly more time on their hands.
“Being able to come here and get help with my school work instead of just being at home not doing anything all day is very good because I have people I can actually look up to and mentors that will actually help me,” said Carter.
Copyright 2021 WECT. All rights reserved.