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High school athletes pledge nonviolence before games in new campaign

<i>WISH</i><br/>Students will wear black T-shirts that say
Students will wear black T-shirts that say "Stop the Violence" on the front and "Hoosiers for Good" on the back.

By Jade Jackson

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    INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana (WISH) — If you’re at a high school basketball game at almost any Central Indiana school, you may see students wearing black T-shirts that say “Stop the Violence” on the front and “Hoosiers for Good” on the back.

This is all in an effort to showcase a message of peace for the student’s supporters or other peers.

Tyler Harris is the executive director for Hoosiers for Good, a new organization that partners local charities with college athletes who use their platforms to influence and amplify philanthropic work. They launched back in March and the organization wanted to start an awareness campaign with Stop the Violence Indianapolis Inc. Using student athletes in high school, they wanted to challenge young people to #TeamUpForPeace by choosing positive alternatives to gun violence.

The idea originated from a previous collaboration event with Stop the Violence Inc. where they had Indiana University men’s basketball players, Trace Jackson-Davis and Race Thompson speak to six local high school basketball teams.

“You could really tell that the high school basketball teams really were paying attention to what these two influencial athletes said and so we wanted to do something similar, but with a bigger audience,” Harris said.

The T-shirts were sponsored by a generous donor.

The goal is to have a collective message from student athletes to supporters and peers at their games.

“Gun violence in general in Indianapolis is on the rise. In particular, teen gun violence. So, we want to use this NIL landscape, where college athletes can benefit from their name, image and likeness to create good in the community. So many people look up to these athletes and if we could get one teen to put down a gun or not resort to gun violence, potentially saving a life, it’s all worth it,” said Harris, who said college athletes are showcasing their support of the campaign by posting on social media.

Indiana University linebacker, Aaron Casey posted his video last month.

“I choose to team up for peace, because I know of a family who has lost a loved one due to gun violence, and no one should have to lose a family member in such a tragic and preventable way,” said Casey, “So, I want to use my voice and my platform to make my community a safer place by influencing others not to resort to violent measures and use conflict resolutions,” Casey said.

Julius Stephens is a board member with Stop the Violence Indianapolis, Inc. and said campaign has two phases.

Phase one was partnering with the Indiana University football team to push the message across social media.

“With Phase 2, we got in touch with the high schools in Indianapolis and the townships. They will be wearing hoodies during warm ups with Stop the Violence also on that trying to also influence their peers to stop the violence,” Stephens said. “We want to pick up the kids before they pick up the guns.”

He said the campaign is like a pilot program, and they’d hope to branch out of Central Indiana.

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