Middle-School Students Push ‘Baskets Not Bullets’

(CBS) — Marchers walked for peace in Humboldt Park on Saturday.

And while this is the 22nd year, it held a special meaning for two 14-year-olds.

CBS 2’s Sandra Torres reports.

It may look like a typical Saturday for Jalen Harris and Drew Donahue, tossing a ball and enjoying the outdoors, but it’s really a special day for the two eighth-graders.

They were invited to speak at the 22nd Annual Walk for Peace to continue spreading the word about their mission.

Their goal is to get young people to the basketball court, rather than the street. Their “Baskets Not Bullets” effort that has grown since we first met them a year ago.

Then, Jalen was doing a seventh-grade assignment as a tribute to his friend, Tyshawn Lee, who was shot and killed in the Gresham neighborhood.

“At first, it stated about him it was classroom project, and we thought it was only going to be that. But then, it got bigger and bigger,” Harris tells CBS 2’s Sandra Torres.

So far, they’ve raised $5,000 for a city program called Windy City Hoops, and they’ve spoken at nearly 10 schools about the impact of gun violence.

“If you can make an impact on one person then it’s worthwhile,” Donahue says.

That impact is clear to Miagros Burgos, whose daughter was killed by a stray bullet in the Belmont Cragin neighborhood in 2014. Seeing the work of these 14-year-olds brings some comfort to her, she says.

There is a third boy named Cole who has also been a part of the efforts. He couldn’t be there Saturday but also deserves some of the credit.

All three will be going into high school this year. They say that won’t stop their mission.

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