COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – The founder of a local basketball program knows the basketball courts at Westgate Park well.

He grew up playing on them, and now, through basketball, he’s trying to bring more positivity to central Ohio.

“Hoops is the pull to give them hope,” said Zach Fleer, founder of 270 Faith, the non-profit branch of high school basketball program 270 Hoops.

270 Faith, which seeks to use basketball to connect youth to the Gospel, will host a West Side Hoops and Hope basketball program at Westgate Park in Hilltop every Thursday from 4 to 7 p.m. from May to July, Fleer said.

“I wanted to come back to my roots, bring it to the west side, have it offered to these kids where it’s in the neighborhood,” Fleer said. “They can walk here after school, they can come here, get rides, and come to a side of town that really needs it, so that was the mission behind it.”

Each week will involve drills, coaching, games, dinner and a discussion about faith — all at no cost to participants, Fleer said.

Despite a shooting that occurred at Westgate Park on Wednesday night, Fleer forged ahead with the program’s first day on Thursday.

“When things happen in bad neighborhoods, people that don’t live there can just kind of ignore and it just drive away, but the people that live here still have to live here after tragedy happens, so why not bring something great,” Fleer said. “I don’t want Westgate Park to be associated with death and sadness and darkness. I want it to be light and hope and peace, and that’s what we aim to accomplish, and that’s why we didn’t call it off today.”

Some local coaches are helping Fleer run the program, he said.

“If it weren’t for my faith in sports, I probably wouldn’t be the man I am today,” Ramon Spears, head basketball coach at South High School, said. 

The program is open to any middle school or high school student in Columbus, according to Fleer. 

“It’s a safe haven for kids right now with a lot of the stuff that’s going on in the city,” Spears said. “This is a place where you know from 4 to 7 you can be in a safe haven.”

Sign up for the Hoops and Hope program here.