Scared straight: Anti-gun violence program takes kids to morgue

Michelle Charlesworth Image
Wednesday, May 18, 2016
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Michelle Charlesworth has the latest details.

BROWNSVILLE, Brooklyn (WABC) -- A new program is giving students a serious reality check when it comes to gun violence.

The program is called "It Starts Here" and involves middle school and high school students visiting a hospital to hear from victims of gun violence, and it also includes a visit to the morgue.

"This is an actual dead body," Brookdale University Medical Center's Khari Edwards told the students. "And behind that curtain, there are about 20 dead bodies."

The 50 Brooklyn students were invited to Brookdale for a two-hour crash course in the dangers of guns. Every 36 hours, the hospital sees a victim of gun violence.

"You guys have a decision to make," Edwards told the group. "You can make a decision to do great things, or you can make a decision to go the wrong way. And usually, wrong ways end you up here."

Surgeons also talked to the students, showing them pictures and video of gunshot victims in the Emergency Department that hammered home the message: We care about you and don't want to see you here.

"Seeing that body, it just made me realize that life is precious," 17-year-old student Shane Magloire said. "Just thinking what if my friend or myself was dead."

Magloire said seeing the morgue will always stay with him and that he was also shocked by the fact that almost everyone in the group raised their hand when asked if a friend or family member had been a victim of gun violence.

"In our world, not a lot of people get this kind of treatment," Magloire said.

Hospital officials echoed that sentiment.

"All of our children today need to know there is hope for them," Brookdale president Mark Toney said. "There's a better place for them in the future. They can be anything they want to be."

The goal is to let the kids know that they are valued, and that a better future awaits them.