This scared-straight program is dead serious.
Brookdale Hospital brought 50 kids from Brooklyn high schools to its morgue to scare them away from gunplay on May 18. And the event was right on target, according to one student who said it helped him realize how one wrong move could cause a lifetime of pain.
“It was touching,” said New Visions Charter High School student Deshawn Rios. “Knowing what these people went through, it could have them think, ‘What if that was me in that situation, in this position? How would the family members of the victim of the life I took away feel?’”
Hospital employees showed kids some unlucky stiffs whose lives gun violence cut short, because the day was all about tough love, one worker said.
“They never had a chance to see tomorrow, they never had a chance to wear Jordans, they never had a chance to enjoy themselves,” external affairs guru Khari Edwards told a group of aghast students viewing a corpse. “What we want you to do is live long, fruitful, fulfilling lives being real ingratiated people to society.”
Edwards dreamed up the event — the first in the hospital’s “It Starts Here” campaign to end gun violence — because his 12-year-old son was held at gunpoint in an attempted robbery.
A criminal justice advocate, a gunshot survivor, a trauma surgeon, and Deputy Borough President Diana Reyna talked to kids about confronting aggression in their own lives, and students shared their reasons for fearing to speak out — peer pressure, respect, and fear of what might happen to their families if they did. The intimate conversation resonated with pupils, one school administrator said.
“I felt like that personal level that they had, talking about the gun violence and holding them accountable for their behavior and actions while watching this presentation, I thought that was super effective,” said New Visions Charter High School for Advanced Math and Science III guidance counselor Stefan Phillip. “It opened their eyes to see stuff they had never seen before, and to see that this is real. It’s not just something that’s in a movie, it’s not something from a video game. This stuff can actually happen.”