Connecting with youth

Published 9:32 pm Thursday, September 17, 2009

Young people who love basketball have a special event to attend Saturday.

The Tru Hope Trailblazers, a basketball enterprise hoping to become a National Basketball Association development league team soon, will play an exhibition game against Suffolk police officers from 5 to 9 p.m. Saturday. Doors open at 4:30 p.m. Children 5 and under are admitted free; admission is $5 for all others.

The game is sponsored by the Western Tidewater Community Services Board. Anita Morris, the director of the organization, hopes the event will help police officers connect with young people.

“This particular event is to help in building a bridge between our youth and families and our local law enforcement officers,” Morris said. “The youth will get to interact with the police officers being real people, as opposed to the guys riding around in the street looking for people doing wrong.”

The event, Morris hopes, will allow police officers and young people to develop communication, understanding and respect.

King’s Fork High School was chosen to host the event because of the state championship-winning team that came from the school last year. Some of the players will be present at the event, Morris said.

“We’ll be recognizing returning ball players, giving them support and encouragement to maybe go on and win another championship for Suffolk.”

A team of Suffolk police officers, led by Sgt. J.D. Buie, will play against the Trailblazers.

“We’re trying to get a positive message out to the kids,” Buie said. “It gives the kids a chance to interact with (us) other than when we’re being policemen, in an environment they feel comfortable and feel like they can interact with us.”

Police officers will use the opportunity to help show the young people that there is “more to life than things on the street,” Buie said.

“We want to reach out to the kids in a neutral environment,” Buie said.

Emory Addison, coach of the Tru Hope Trailblazers, said the team regularly participates in community events.

“We’re reaching out the community,” he said. “It’s an opportunity to make a difference and gain a fan base.”

The Tru Hope Trailblazers include many local players, and is in the process of building its program. It began about a year ago.

“Our ultimate goal is to become an NBA developmental team,” Addison said. “We’ve begun that process to accomplish that goal.”

Addison said the team looks forward to Saturday’s event.

“We’re excited about going out there.”