CLEVELAND (WJW) – Taking back the community. That is the message of a new anti-violence initiative on Cleveland’s west side.

“It really started because of the unfortunate events that happened at Jefferson Park in the community,” said Rich Austin with Impact Youth Incorporated, a community-based mentoring program.

Jefferson Park on the city’s west side was the scene of two deadly shootings in the past year. Now the park is thriving as the site of Cleveland’s inaugural outdoor basketball summer league.

“It’s really about creating a culture at the park, protecting the park,” said Austin.

“All these kids who are out there earned their way onto the court,” said Ward 16 Councilman Brian Kazy.

According to Kazy, all 125 players must complete classes and training on conflict resolution and neighborhood outreach before putting on a jersey.

On a nearby court, Cleveland police held their own community outreach program.   Cops shot hoops with kids to help bridge the gap in the community.

“This is an opportunity to connect with the kids, building relationships,” said Sgt. James Bezak.

 Jefferson Park is rebounding, assisted by a community committed to discouraging kids from participating in crime.

“We’ve taken it back and put positive elements back into the park,” said Austin.

The outdoor summer league runs until the end of July.