BATON ROUGE, La (BRPROUD)- Community leaders are continuing to look for new innovative ways to serve the community and reduce violence starting with the youngest citizens. Former NBA and LSU player Mahmoud Abdul Rauf said If you want to find yourself, lose yourself in the service of others. 

“It’s generational when you do things like this,” said Rauf.

Ball Together Baton Rouge is an event designed to create relationships and understanding between the youth, their communities and law enforcement.

“It’s just reinforcement that there are people out there that care cause sometimes there’s a major level of despair depending on what you’re accustomed to, the environments that you’re living in, the things that you’re listening to,” Rauf said.

Local leaders said using basketball as a platform helps the community change the narrative while providing kids with diverse backgrounds a common ground to be themselves.

“Having the parents bring their children here is big, we have many times parents not involved in their children’s lives, don’t have parents involved at all,” Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore said.  

Executive Director Aishala Burgess with Truce said law enforcement can’t do it all themselves. 

“We wanted an event to break up the cycle of violence that’s been going on in our community,” Burgess said.

“It’s a joint effort, it has to be a partnership between law enforcement and the community, we’re able to interact with them and show them that we’re not to be feared, we’re actually there to help them and we have troopers who brought their children here as well,” Louisiana State Police public information officer Taylor Scrantz said.

Kids worked on basketball and agility skills while also focusing on the mental aspect of being an athlete on and off the court.

“There’s so much negativity and sometimes we get soaked in it, we’re thinking man there’s no light at the end of the tunnel and so people give up, so hopefully this is a start,” Rauf said.