INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — If you attend a high school basketball game at almost any school in central Indiana, you might see students wearing black T-shirts that read “Stop the Violence.” on the front and “Hoosiers for Good” on the back. .
All with the aim of presenting a message of peace to the student’s supporters or other peers.
Tyler Harris is the executive director of Hoosiers for Good, a new organization that connects local charities with college athletes who use their platforms to influence and amplify philanthropic work. They launched in March and the organization wanted to start an awareness campaign with Stop the Violence Indianapolis Inc. Using high school student-athletes, they wanted to challenge young people to #TeamUpForPeace by choosing positive alternatives to gun violence .
The idea grew out of 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 teams from local high school basketball.
“You could really tell that the high school basketball teams were really paying attention to what these two influential athletes were saying and so we wanted to do something similar, but with a larger audience,” Harris said.
The T-shirts were sponsored by a generous donor.
The goal is to convey a collective message from the student-athletes to the supporters and their peers during their matches.
“Gun violence in general in Indianapolis is on the rise. In particular, gun violence among adolescents. 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 a teenager to put down a gun or not use gun violence, which could save a life, it’s worth it,” said Harris, who said the college athletes were showing their support for the campaign by posting on social media.
Indiana University linebacker Aaron Casey released his video last month.
“I chose to team up for peace, because I know a family that has lost a loved one to gun violence, and no one should have to lose a family member in such a tragic and preventable,” Casey said, “So I want to use my voice and my platform to make my community a safer place by urging others not to resort to violent action and to use conflict resolutions,” said Casey.
Julius Stephens is a board member of Stop the Violence Indianapolis, Inc. and said the campaign has two phases.
The first phase was to partner with the Indiana University football team to spread the word on social media.
“With Phase 2, we reached out to high schools in Indianapolis and the townships. They will wear hoodies during warm-ups with Stop the Violence, also trying to influence their peers to stop the violence,” Stephens said. “We want to get the kids back before they get the guns.”
He said the campaign is like a pilot program and they hope to branch out of central Indiana.