Hi. Our names are Drew Donohue, Jalen Harris and Cole Tansey, and we are 8th graders in a Chicago public school. Last year, we started working on a community project at our school, “Baskets Not Bullets: Off the Street and Onto the Court.”
We were devastated after hearing about Tyshawn Lee, the 9-year old who was shot and killed by a gang member. We felt like he was a kid who could have been any of us. He liked playing basketball. His friends even put basketballs on his casket. Each of us play sports and have friends we worry about. We decided we wanted to do something in our community about gun violence and kids, and focus on sports as a way to help keep kids safer.
We chose to raise awareness of the real impact gun violence has on kids and their families. It's too easy to see violence on tv and not realize how much it destroys families. But we also wanted to be part of a solution and fund a program to keep kids off the streets. We started this GoFundMe page and asked for your help. We designed a logo and sold t-shirts and wristbands. What started as our middle school community project has now become a growing Chicago student initiative to raise awareness of gun violence and to help direct city kids to playing sports as a safe, positive alternative. Baskets Not Bullets: "Off the street and onto the court" exists because we believe that we're never too young to be part of a solution and that our city is too great not to try to help.
To raise awareness, we are traveling to schools around the city to talk to other kids and present the Mike Oquendo documentary, For the Love of Mom which interviews two mothers who lost children to gang-related gun violence. Kids need to directly see and feel the impact of gun-violence on families if the shootings are to stop. We end by showing a video of Windy City Hoops : http://www.chicagoparkdistrict.com/programs/windy-city-hoops/
and handing out flyers for kids to sign up.
We’ve learned this past year that if kids are motivated, adults respond and we can make a difference.
Along the way, we are meeting the most inspiring people:
The Burgos family who lost their daughter, Alexandria to gun-violence, keeps us going; Elizabeth Jusino, who through Allstate has supported initiatives against violence and has invited us to WE Day and highlighted us on her website.
We’ve reached out to the Mayor, met with the Kerry Wood Foundation, presented at the Jose de Diego School. We had a booth at TIP Fest and at Peace Day and met so many other teens in Chicago (thank you, Roberto Lugo at Windy City Hoops). We did a social media campaign to support the city’s “Put Your Guns Down” initiative here in Chicago and in Selma, AL and were invited to present to high school athletes at Lane Tech by Coach Nick Logalbo. Finally, our advisor, Ana Solis supports and reminds us everyday that we are the ones who can change the world.
Our campaign has been covered by CBS News:
And more recently, The Steve Cochran show at WGN Radio. Thank you!
Though we started with the goal of raising $4000 to purchase more Baskets Not Bullets merchandise to raise awareness and funds, we're now looking to raise much more to help reach other kids in our city. We plan to present at other Chicago events for teens. We want to reach as many kids as possible.
We need your help because we know that not all of our Chicago communities will be able to pay for additional t-shirts and wristbands to be made. The funds raised on this page will go towards purchasing these items. The profits from the t-shirt and wristband sales will be donated to Windy City Hoops. This way, we can raise awareness and support for a program that aims to keep kids off the streets. We know that there are many other kids in our city who are not as fortunate as we are and they need all of our help.
We really appreciate your help!
Drew, Cole and Jalen
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