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Philadelphia police, kids march in Fairhill to end gun violence

Footballs Not Firearms event rallied children and law enforcement to stand against gun violence
Footballs Not Firearms event rallied children and law enforcement to stand against gun violence 02:44

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Marching for peace, marching for change. 

On Tuesday, kids and Philadelphia police walked side by side to show their strength in the fight against gun violence in the city.

Community organizations are looking to make an impact on young people with sports for support.

Shootings are affecting younger and younger people in the city. According to Philadelphia police, 140 kids have been shot so far in 2023. 

A few hundred kids rallied to take a stand against gun violence and had a little fun while doing it. 

It was football, food and fun in Fairhill Square Park on Tuesday, but this day away from the classroom had a deeper meaning for these kids. It's one way groups are hoping to tackle gun violence at the community level. 

"Peace starts from the inside out and the ground up," Hugh Taft-Morales, a clergy leader with the Philadelphia Ethical Society, said. "It's not going to come from some dictate from some political honcho. It has to be the people on the ground getting to know each other. " 

Footballs Not Firearms is an event that lets kids interact with the police officers who patrol their neighborhood. 


Malya Wilson, an eighth grader, said she lost a friend to a shooting and wanted to be part of the change. 

"I feel like it makes them feel comfortable without them being labeled a snitch or being scary, and I feel like it brings us closer to the police," Wilson said.  

Police officers did more than just throw touchdowns. They led the students on a march around Fairhill. 

And they served up lunch in the park. Captain Andrew Di Santo said events like this let kids see another side of officers.  

"It's not all about handcuffs and locking people up," Di Santo said. "The police department is really geared toward engaging with the community and showing the positive side of law enforcement and how we work with the community."  

Organizers know they won't solve the city's gun violence problems overnight. But they said events like this can start that process – by building up relationships with the next generation of Philadelphians. 

"They start to gain trust," Councilmember Quetcy Lozada said. "And they're familiar with faces. And they know that this individual person is someone that I can come to."  

"We're hoping that this will have just a little bit of a ripple effect and help bring people together," Taft-Morales said.   

The Philadelphia Eagles also donated 150 footballs for this event, so those kids could take one home with them.  

Tuesday's event is just one of many in the run up to the United Nations International Day of Peace on Thursday.

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