PORTSMOUTH, Va. — For a Portsmouth native, his personal experiences and love for his community are fueling him to help kids stay on the right track.
"Just allowing the kids to be kids through the summer," said Darrell Redmond.
Inside the London Oaks Community Center, a newly formed summer camp hopes to reach children early.
Redmond is the founder of the nonprofit Give Back 2 Da Block, and he’s from the London Oaks neighborhood.
He said many local children are exposed to things they shouldn’t see — and he wanted to provide a safe space that introduces them to positive influences and opportunities.
"We understand with kids, giving them something to do doesn’t give them the time to do or think about something they shouldn’t be doing," said Redmond.
The camp uses activities like cooking and cleaning up the neighborhood to discuss the importance of playing your part for the common good.
It also exposes them to positive role models in different careers and welcomes mental health experts to identify trauma.
The camp is a partnership with Portsmouth Parks & Recreation.
"They are dealing with adult situations. We’re just trying to give them some outlets," said Valora Baskerville, the Portsmouth Parks and Recreation facilities supervisor.
Baskerville said it is important to have programs that children can easily access. Parents aren’t always able to get children to the programs, she said.
"These programs that are right here in the community are great programs because the kids can get up and come out on their own," said Baskerville.
She said the camp is one of many free programs offered in the city this summer to curb violence in Portsmouth. Parents can learn more about the offerings and sign up their children by clicking here or calling (757) 393 -8481.
Roughly 10 minutes away, Portsmouth Police officers canvassed the neighborhood on Jenkins Avenue, just days after a deadly double shooting.
These R.E.S.E.T. Walks are part of the city’s anti-crime approach.
But Interim Chief Stephen Jenkins says Portsmouth needs everyday citizens to step up, especially when it comes to reaching young people.
"Once these kids realize that someone cares about them, I think you'll see a huge change," said Jenkins.
That message resonates with Redmond.
Redmond served 25 years in prison and said he doesn’t want children to make the same mistake he made.
Give Back 2 Da Block is looking for funding to get transportation to show the children more opportunities.
The program takes place Monday through Thursday every week at the London Oaks Community Center. To learn more about sign-ups, click here.