BOSTON (CBS) – They played basketball for peace Tuesday, a unique tournament celebrating its tenth year, and there was a special message from a young woman who survived a bullet when she was just three years old. It all happened at UMass Boston. The idea is to have Boston teens meet the authorities on the basketball court, instead of at the court house.
About 100 young people from nine schools and community organizations filled the basketball courts at the UMass Boston Clark Athletic Center. Some of it was just vacation week fun, a chance to meet other kids from other parts of the city. But it was also a chance to meet police officers, prosecutors and other authorities.READ MORE: Omicron COVID Variant Detected In Massachusetts Woman
“To meet in an environment that was friendly, and open, and you could look to us, I hope as friends and someone who might help you,” Suffolk County District Attorney Dan Conley told the kids assembled in the stands. His office runs the program. “We think it’s a very nice vehicle to keep kids connected to one another, and hopefully on the straight and narrow,” he says.
During a break in the tourney, the main speaker was Kai Leigh Harriott, a senior in high school now, but who was just three years old when she was hit by a stray bullet while sitting on the porch of her home. She and her mother famously forgave the man who fired the shot and put her in a wheelchair.READ MORE: Wind Gusts Across Eastern Mass. Projected To Be 50 MPH Or Higher On Monday Night
“All of you guys are brave and you’re strong and you have a lot to offer yourselves and your community,” she told her peers. “It’s a very torn relationship between authorities and young kids of color. I definitely think it’s a starting place and I think it’s important to let these kids know that someone cares.”
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Kai received an award for her activism and so did several others involved in community service, including our own Paul Burton who accepted a lifetime achievement award for his family’s work with the Ron Burton Training Village. Kai plans to go to college in the fall and study animal science.