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Children Share Personal Stories At Program On Gun Violence

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CHICAGO (CBS) — Forget peace marches and rallies, some Chicago kids are taking their concerns about violence straight to the top; not the police chief, not the superintendent, but the president.

CBS 2’s Suzanne Le Mignot reports a group of children has written letters to President Barack Obama, many of them telling personal stories about gun violence.

Ten-year-old Samuel Garner wrote, “I live in Chicago, Illinois, and I want to live.”

The letters will also go to U.S. Sens. Mark Kirk and Dick Durbin.

Garner, a student at the Children’s Defense Fund’s Freedom School at Trinity United Church of Christ, said gun violence is impacting children’s lives, and it needs to stop.

“When I go to sleep at night, I’m afraid, because I have a fear of dying from all this gun violence and stuff, and I’m afraid that someone could come in and make sure I don’t wake up in the morning,” he said.

Eleven-year-old Winston Hill told the other children about how he was checking the news on his iPad one Saturday night, when he came across a story about the shooting death of his 21-year-old cousin.

“Some person walked up to her dorm and shot her in the leg,” he said.

He said she was shot in the leg and the bullet had traveled to her heart and killed her. He said she was his favorite cousin. He cried when he said he misses her and never gets to see her anymore and that she had a lot of dreams.

“If you take away children’s lives; the children are basically the future of the United States and without them, there would be no future,” Hill said.

The students are taking part in the Children’s Defense Fund’s Protect Children, Not Guns campaign.

Rev. Jasmin Taylor, a minister at Trinity UCC, said “The purpose of the event today was our children to get an opportunity to use their voices, to say, ‘I want to live.’”

“We’ve had some powerful stories come out today from some of our children, and some tears were shed,” she added.

Taylor, who runs the program, said it helps children understand when they hear about other children’s experiences with violence.

“I think they’re able to connect better when they’re in a group of their peers, learning and talking about the things they’ve had go on in their families and their experiences,” she said.

Many stood up and said what they want to be when they grow up, including a doctor, a police officer, a firefighters, the President, a princess and a man of God.

“I want to be able to grow up, and achieve my dreams of being a race car driver and a karate teacher,” Garner said through tears.

The children’s letters will be mailed to the president and the senators on Friday.

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