EAST NEW YORK (PIX 11) — Local non-profit Tomorrow’s Leaders NYC is raising awareness about the need to end gun violence with a tournament that aims to impact the hundreds of youth who attended. 

15-year-old Zyshawn Mckenzie knows all too well the heartbreak of losing a loved one to gun violence. He says just earlier this year he lost his older sister in a tragic shooting. 

“It was very hurt ‘cause I was just with her like two days before it happened,” Mckenzie said. “Being that the person who shot her died, I know too. So it was more like a painful moment.”

Since that fateful day in January, he says he’s made it his mission to educate his peers on the importance of putting the guns down. He was one of the more than 300 teens from Tomorrow’s Leaders who put it all on the court Thursday in the Stop the Violence Basketball Tournament.

The event held at I.S. 292 in East New York, aimed at raising awareness of gun violence in a community that has experienced far too much tragedy.

“Unfortunately East New York has a reputation of being a hotspot as far as gun violence activities so we want to just shine a positive light on this community,” said Toyin Ayanfodun, the executive director of Tomorrow’s Leaders NYC. 

While city data shows shooting incidents in New York are down 25 percent compared to this time last year New York City Gun Violence Prevention Czar Andre T. Mitchell says the neighborhood’s 75th precinct has one of the highest rates of gun violence in the city.

Mitchell states a lack of resources is to blame. 

“Being an East New Yorker we were the last to receive the resources,” Mitchell said. “We were the last to receive the education, the opportunities, which thus fed into the crime that unfortunately. Now we’re diminishing that.”

As the gun czar and co-founder of the cure violence organization Man Up Inc. Mitchell says he’s been working tirelessly to get guns off the street while also providing resources to communities riddled by gun violence.

Organizers also used the event to honor families impacted by gun violence.