The football field at the Samuel Green Charter School on Valence Street in New Orleans was abuzz with playing children, media crews, and blue-shirted sports heroes. Football legend Marcus Allen ran drills with boys and girls, while Wimbledon winner Monica Seles spoke with visitors.
As he remarked on her athleticism, Allen introduced one girl to Olympic gold medalist Dr. Edwin Moses, Chairman of the Laureus World Sports Academy.
Allen, whose mother hailed from New Orleans, explained that the youngster dreams of becoming a track star. “She doesn’t even try to run and she runs,” Allen told Moses.
The scene preceded a more formal presentation at the school on the role of sports in reducing community violence. While the emphasis was on the positive role sports can play in young people’s lives, the message was clear and adds to larger efforts at violence prevention, including one launched this spring, CeaseFire.
In April, at the behest of the community group Solutions not Shootings, Mayor Mitch Landrieu and the Urban League of Greater New Orleans launched CeaseFire. The program originated in Chicago, and uses a public health approach to “interrupt violence," in part by training people to act as “violence interrupters” who actively work to diffuse violence and solve conflicts in high-crime areas.
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