Hillside rises from shootings with cheer squads, football teams - NBC12.com - Richmond, VA News

Hillside rises from shootings with cheer squads, football teams

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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) -

When blood spilled on the sidewalks and violence spilled in from nearby neighborhoods, people from South Richmond's Hillside Court knew it was time to band together.

"We cannot thrive as a community by living separate lives," said Patrice Shelton, a founding member of the Hillside Court Partnership. "We need to be here for one another, and give our young people a sense of belonging, responsibility and friendship."

Richmond gun violence spiked at the end of 2012 – in Hillside, at least two fatal shootings unfolded in three months. Then in December, Shelton helped to develop the Hillside Court Partnership, a community service group founded to empower young people.

"We have our residents become members of teams," said Shelton in an interview Thursday. "We have a family support team, a meet-and-greet team… Teens deliver hot meals to our older community members. It's all of us helping each other out."

The community service teams are joined by a cheer squad, known as the "Southside Starz" and a football team, "the Hillside Soldiers."

Hillside's cheer coach, Lindsay Gullatte, said she's seen a drastic difference in the personalities of the girls she mentors.

"They start out a little sassy" Gullatte said. "I try to teach them a little discipline, and teach them positive habits. So less sass is helping the neighborhood"

Faith-based charity Embrace Richmond founded the Hillside Court Partnership, and now HCP runs community activities.

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