Philly teens use sports, police engagement to cope with gun violence

Christie Ileto Image
Wednesday, August 26, 2020
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COPING WITH VIOLENCE: A Philly organization that helps kids directly impacted by gun violence held a game of kickball Tuesday night.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Tustin Playground in Philadelphia is a safe space for teens like Prince Barner.

The 17-year-old is part of Youth Empowerment for Advancement Hangout--or YEAH Philly--an organization that helps kids directly impacted by gun violence.

As a way to cope after seeing peers fall victim to the violence, the organization held a kickball game between kids in the program, community leaders and members of the 19th police district.

"It''s definitely not normal to have your friends or family dying every two weeks," said Barner.

"That's what it's been like for you?" asked reporter Christie Ileto.

"Yes, every two weeks someone has died, either shot or just family," said Barner.

"Over the past couple of weeks there's been a series of shootings and loss and it's all involving young people," said James Aye, co-founder of YEAH Philly.

Just Tuesday afternoon, a 15-year-old girl was shot in the shoulder on the 4100 block of Old York Road around the same time these kids were trying to forget about the violence around them.

"We have to talk about it, instead of bottling it up. They bottle it up, they can't express it and when it gets to that tipping point nobody can say anything to them," said Officer Ian Nance with the 19th police district.

An informal setting and a chance for open dialogue, Tuesday's game is part of a six-week initiative for teen, police engagement.

Philadelphia's murder rate is up 33% from this time last year.

"Sometimes I compare my life to what you see on TV and how teenagers they're in the house and their biggest problems are 'oh I failed my test,' not 'oh, my cousin just died,'" said Jasmine Brown.

YEAH Philly is hoping to continue the teen, police engagement with other police districts in the city.