Basketball championship aims to comfort local students in the wa - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

Basketball championship aims to comfort local students in the wake of Florida shooting

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Communities in western Massachusetts continue doing what they can to offer support to students in the wake of the Florida school shooting.

On Friday night, the Holyoke Safe Neighborhood Initiative hosted their winter league basketball championships, and organizers told Western Mass News the event was more than just a game.

The event aims to provide mentorship to students in order to keep them off the streets and out of trouble, and organizers said it's also a coping mechanism following the deadly shooting.

The gym at the Holyoke Boys and Girls Club was filled with music and packed with fans cheering while players brought their 'A' game. 

While those games are held every year, this year's mood was somber as it came on the heels of the shooting on Wednesday at a Parkland Florida high school.

Assistant Coach Johnny Valez said events like the tournament provide young people with mentorship and if they need someone to talk to.
"They need to know we are here to support them," he said. 
The Holyoke Safe Neighborhood Initiative  is a partnership between local and state law enforcement, city and state government, along with human service organizations.

Ed Caisse with the Hampden County Sheriff's Department told Western Mass News he wants to empower the young adults to make smart decisions.
"We try to do positive things for youth. A lot of inmates tell us when they grow up in rough areas they didn't have a lot of positive things to do," he said.

Copyright 2018 Western Mass News (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved. 

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