(CBS) — For the fifth-graders at Shields Middle School, a game of dodgeball is serious business.
“They love the game of dodgeball. To them, it’s like you’re my enemy when you’re on the other side, but most importantly they know how to have fun playing the game,” Maria Ordonez of the Brighton Park Neighborhood Council says.
The event was several months in the making when the students wrote letters to Ald. Raymond Lopez expressing concern about the violence in their neighborhood.
“It started when the violence increased, so the kids wanted to know how the alderman can keep them safe when they come to school and back home from school,” Ordonez says. “This even makes them feel like he’s listening and they feel secure. They picked a dodgeball tournament.”
“We love dodgeball,” explains 11-year-old Aldahir Lazada, a fifth-grader at Shields Middle School.
The tournament was a surprise to the students as they near the end of their academic year.
“I was surprised, but then I was a little nervous knowing who we were going to play. A lot of students want to win and get points,” Lazada says.
“There’s a lot of shootings and gang-related incidents in our neighborhood, so it’s nice to know someone is there to keep them safe like the police officers. It’s great to see how the kids are engaged and how happy they are to have the alderman here during their school hours,” Ordonez says.
“The alderman promised he’d come out for the tournament at the end of the year. He kept his word and the kids are loving it.”
The students and adults played five two-minute games. The adults won the tournament 3-2.