PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — As violence continues to plague youth in Philadelphia, a basketball camp is working toward teaching kids discipline. The camp is happening all this week in West Oak Lane.
“I wanted to come to this camp because I wanted to get better at basketball and I wanted to play basketball,” Isaiah Thomas Jr. said.READ MORE: Pennsylvania High Court OKs 'Comfort Dogs' For Witnesses
Basketball is the focus of this summer camp, but organizers have ulterior motives.
“To encourage young people to recognize the skills that they have and what it takes for them to maximize those skills,” Councilmember Isaiah Thomas said.
This is the ninth year for the weeklong Isaiah Thomas and Chris Woods Basketball Camp. Kids ages 5 to 16 battle on the court at the Finey Rec Center, but those skills are to be used both on and off the court.
“Philly is a basketball city,” Thomas said, “And anybody who comes from Philly, who has that Philly grit on the basketball court, will talk to you about the level of discipline that’s needed to really be successful as a player in Philadelphia. But, then they also talk about the importance of the tenacity and hard work.”READ MORE: Woman Killed After Shooting Inside Kensington Home, Police Say
With school starting next week, you might think it’s a little late for a summer camp and you’d be right, however, Thomas says it was all done by design.
“We do our camp every year at the end of August because we know that most free summer programs are over but school hasn’t started yet,” Thomas said. “So we started this camp nine years ago honestly just to fill a void.”
It comes as violence continues to plague the city’s youth. 143 children under the age of 17 have been victims of gun violence this year — six of those incidents happened in the past week. Also, 28 children have been killed by gun violence.
The special guest at camp on Wednesday afternoon was Camden Mayor Vic Carstarphen. He knows about transferring basketball skills to life. He played at Temple University under John Chaney.MORE NEWS: Cars Towed, Scrapped In Wilmington Leads To Federal Lawsuit
“It gave you a good foundation, especially dealing with leadership, dealing with coaches, how to be coached, how to be mentored,” Carstarphen said. “And how to as I always say be a good listener.”