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Cincinnati youth spend Friday night playing basketball

CINCINNATI (Brad Underwood) -- Less than two miles away from the shootout in Walnut Hills dozens of Cincinnati youth spent Friday night playing basketball.
    
It's part of a program created to avoid the madness that happened Friday afternoon.  Cincinnati Police Chief Jeffrey Blackwell says the H3 program keeps 240 kids safe and supervised every Friday night.

Hours after a 14-year-old was shot and killed, Chief Blackwell says that's the reason this program is here: to stop this type of violence and start creating community leaders rather than locking them up.

Laughter. Kids safe and having fun. That's the sound police want to hear.  H3 Cincy is doing just that with video games for the younger children, and hoops for teens 15 to 19 years old every Friday night at three different rec centers.

"They dig it, it's a good program. They have uniforms, they're pride full they know that they matter, and they do matter," on officer said.

The violence Friday afternoon in Walnut Hills only magnifies the need for more programs to connect with young people to keep them off violent pathways.  Police believe the murdered 14-year-old was involved in an incident with a gun at the Evanston Rec Center just three weeks ago.  Since the H3 program tipped off, there have been no problems with violence at the center.

Leesa Thurman cheers on two of her kids who she signed up for the program, "Keep them busy, keep them off the streets, do something as a family.  I'm very competitive so I'm having a good time as well."

Thurman knew about the shooting on Taft and says that's what keeps her closely involved in her children's lives.

"That's what I fear everyday getting that phone call so if I can do anything in my power to keep my kids busy 24/7 and to know where they're at and what they are doing, I'm doing it, I'm doing it, " Thurman continued.

Marqita Blackmon agrees as she watches her nephew, "The world is clearly changing and I believe this is a positive outlet to show kids that there is something other than whats negative out there."

The H3 program has seven more weeks of Friday night hoops before the championship game at Cincinnati State.

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