CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- Kids involved in crime is a concerning thought for people in the community, but the Boys and Girls Clubs of Central Virginia says it is a safe, fun and welcoming resource for kids between the ages of five and 18.

Shootings and high crime rates in Charlottesville and Albemarle County impact the youth through trauma. Some kids hear about it from their family or friends, or maybe they know of the suspect or victim.

Kate Lambert, the CEO of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Central Virginia, says the organization provides kids with the resources they need, including positive and trusting relationships with adults.

"We have to start caring about each other,” she said.

Lambert says a system of continuous care helps kids stay out of trouble, and it goes hand-in-hand with helping them feel safe in their communities.

With the recent uptick in violence, Lambert says that these shootings affect the kids that she sees every day.

"Whether or not someone is directly impacted by that shooting, whether they knew the person that was shot, or they knew the shooter, or they knew of anybody involved. No matter what, kids are experiencing trauma as a result of those things happening," she said. "Parents are experiencing trauma, asking themselves, what if it were me? What if it were my child? And so, I don't think you can limit the impact that these shootings are having."

The club tries to help kids with overcoming such trauma.

"Trauma creates negative behavior, which is why it's so important that we provide positive messaging to our kids, over, and over, and over again,” Lambert said.

Lambert says that feeling safe is not just physical. It's also social and emotional. She says that during the pandemic, many kids felt isolated and cut off from the world.

But now they're trying to learn how to be kids again.

"We want to promote kids being around kids. Coming to the club, having fun, making friends, being kids again. They spent several years not being able to participate in those things. So, we're in the process of re-engaging kids in the things that make childhood, childhood,” said Lambert.

She says that giving the next generation the resources that they need involves the whole community.

"Ninety-seven percent of the kids that come to the club, tell us that the reason they come back to the club is because they know there's an adult that cares about them here,” said Lambert. "None of us can do this alone. If every single person in our community. If every single organization, if every single agency could identify at least one way to participate in the solution, our communities would be stronger and all of our children would feel safer."

Kids can participate in chess clubs, sporting activities or even go out into their communities to serve. And that's what these and that's what these clubs are all about. Making sure that kids stay off the streets and are engaged in meaningful activities.

According to Lambert, the clubs are dedicated to helping kids feel safe and welcome. The facilities are also affordable and accessible for many, with a yearly membership fee of $35 or less. There are six clubs across Central Virginia serving roughly 2,500 kids.

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