PASTOR Carlos Reid and his Hope Center and Youth Against Violence is eager to get the 17th annual Nelson Cooper Peace on da Streets Basketball Classic underway. The classic is scheduled for July 11-14 at the Kendal Isaacs Gymnasium. "The basketball classic started in 1995 and was first named the National Park League Championships," Reid said. "The name was changed to the Nelson Cooper Peace on da Streets Basketball Classic in 1996. The late Nelson Cooper was leader of a gang called the Border Boys. He gave his life to the Lord and went into Mason's Addition community to encourage other gang members to stop the violence. He was shot the night he entered that same community and died a few weeks later." Reid said the basketball tournament is an effort to continue the work of Cooper and YAV to help keep our youth off the streets. "So far for 2012 there have been over 66 reported murders which is 20 more than we had at this same time last year," Reid said. "Last year we set a record with 127. "While we don't want to magnify the problem, we also don't want to minimise the fact that we are experiencing an epidemic as it relates to crime and violence." Reid said Youth Against Violence is committed to fighting this scourge. "We will continue to provide positive alternatives and solutions to the youth of this nation," he said. "We refuse to sit on the sidelines and hope that it will get better because the reality is that it won't get better until every law-abiding and sensible citizen makes up their mind to become a solution rather than a problem." This year's event will consist of five different divisions - 13 and under, 16 and under, 19 and under, church and open divisions. There will also be a Family Night starting 5pm July 14. The night will feature the championship games, the three-point shoot-out and the Phil's Food Services slam dunk contest which has been featured on ESPN for the past two years. "This event continues to grow each year," Reid said. "Last year's champion "Werm" out of Fort Lauderdale will be back along with the second runner up "Airdogg" out of California. "The Bahamas' own Corey 'Out the Building' Walkes who was the first runner-up has also committed to compete. We have a newcomer in that of 'Young Hollywood' who will be travelling from California to compete in this year's competition." This year's winner will receive $1,000 plus a 42-inch plasma television, second prize will get $500 plus a 32" television and third prize is $300 plus a Blackberry, all courtesy of Phil's food Services. The celebrity game will again feature members of parliament playing against some of our pastors. The pastors have won this game for the past three years but the politicians say that with the new generation politicians they have this year, they are guaranteeing a win. Additionally, there is a team expected to come in from Grand Bahama to participate this year. "Again, we expect a number of our Bahamian college players to play this summer, as this event has become an elite basketball tournament in the Bahamas," Reid said. "Our classic has become the most highly anticipated summer event in New Providence and over the past several years we have attracted some college coaches from the US who come down with the hopes of offering scholarships to some of our young players." This year's sponsors once again are led by Furniture Plus, which has been a part of the tournament since its inception, along with the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture, now headed by Dr Danny Johnson. "We encourage everyone out there to come out and support this event," Reid said. "Our children need you."