D.C. program teaches kids camera skills to keep them away from gang violence

Camera program keeps D.C. kids away from gangs
Camera program keeps D.C. kids away from gang... 01:34

Last Updated Mar 18, 2021 7:29 PM EDT

Too many are exposed to violence at an early age in Washington, D.C. But some are finding an alternative with a different kind of shooting. 

Muhammad Toumbou wasn't sure what he was good at besides basketball. "Especially living in D.C., all you know is basketball, gang violence," the 16-year-old said. 

But then he heard about a program that teaches how to make short films. The program, called Don't Shoot Guns, Shoot Cameras, works with underserved youth to teach them positive ways to express themselves. 

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Marley McDonald and Muhammad Toumbou say they've benefited from the program Don't Shoot Guns, Shoot Cameras.  CBS News

"I said I want to be part of this," Toumbou said. "The only type of videos I've ever shot was on my phone." 

Yasmin Salina and comedian Rodney Grant run the program. Grant's nephew was shot to death in 2015. 

"These kids don't deserve guns in their hands. They don't deserve people not believing in them. They got to have more people believing in them," Grant said. 

After working on the group's final short film, 17-year-old Marley McDonald is now heading to film school. "I think it's important to have people who look like me tell stories about similar life experiences I went through," McDonald said. 

Toumbou has found something else he's good at. "It opened doors that I would have never thought would be open," he said. 

He now sees the world through a new lens. 

Don't Shoot Guns, Shoot Cameras
Don't Shoot Guns, Shoot Cameras teaches underserved youth how to make short films.  CBS News
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    Ben Tracy is a CBS News senior national and environmental correspondent based in Washington, D.C.