MILWAUKEE – A longtime Milwaukee organization celebrated the return of youth football and cheerleaders on Saturday and held a march to condemn the violence.

The Neighborhood Children’s Sports League (NCSL) hosted a large cheering rally in Lincoln Park with a DJ, the football players and their families, and the team’s cheerleaders and their families.

For decades, the league has functioned not only as a sports organization, but also as an organization to shape young boys and girls as leaders and teach them skills so that they can one day give back to their communities.

“I have always maintained that if you can get young people involved in activities that help build their character, you will have fewer problems with them on the road,” said Earl Ingram, former president of NCSL.

Ingram, who resigned two years ago, led the league for 20 years.

“You start to lead their steps, instead of trying to change them once they’re 15 or 16, it’s a lot harder,” Ingram said.

The league is recruiting young people aged 6 to 14, and this year it has expanded to 11 football teams, up from just six in 2020.

The season kicks off at the end of August and runs through October with games every Saturday at Lincoln Park starting at 8 a.m.

Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley joined the rally and cheering march.

“We have seen an increase in violence over the past year, so it was extremely important for me to come and speak to these young people, to let them know how much I appreciate them and what role they play in doing so. of this community a better community. Crowley said.

Non-fatal shootings in Milwaukee are up more than 50% from June 2020, and that includes shooting incidents among minors.

Over the weekend, an eight and 13-year-old boy was rushed to hospital with non-life-threatening gunshot wounds.

Crowley said it takes a village, like the league, to have an impact on violence.

“It was not only my parents who held me responsible, but it was also my neighbors who held me responsible.”

Brandi Harris, the mother of a league graduate, took on the role of NCSL program director to give back.

“It shaped him [her son] and helped his self-esteem. It helped his ways: knowing how to communicate with people, to volunteer, to do community service, to feed the homeless, to be able to go out and to be confident, ”said Harris.

His son now plays college football at Wisconsin Lutheran.

Some of the young athletes in Saturday’s rally are already serving as role models.

“That’s good, because we all came here and walked holding up signs saying, ‘Stop the violence.’ There are too many people dying every day so I don’t like it, ”said Landon Slim, an 11-year-old player with the Texas Longhorn league football team.

Slim said the sport and their community outreach is all about helping each other.

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