A trumpeter in New Orleans is using music to get kids away from guns.
Shamarr Allen just created a unique new program to help stop gun violence among children: Trumpet Is My Weapon.
A tragedy inspired the program. Two young teens were recently injured in a shooting in New Orleans’ Seventh Ward, and a nine-year-old child, Devante Bryant, was killed.
Allen himself grew up in the Lower Ninth Ward, and his son is currently nine years old. This personal connection made him want to take action. He said that taking up music as a young person “saved him”:
What saved me and redirected my path was a trumpet, the music, and culture of the city that it connected me with… The trumpet became a weapon that really saved my life, so I figured it may be able to have the same impact for another young person from New Orleans.Shamarr Allen
So, he posted to his Instagram page, beginning the new initiative.
Allen included the “no questions asked” phrase because he needs the kids to trust him. If they though they would be getting in trouble, they would likely hesitate to come forward:
I wanted to build a relationship and trust with the kids so that they wouldn’t have to worry about getting in any trouble.Shamarr Allen
Now, Allen has connected with both the mayor of New Orleans, LaToya Cantrell, and the police chief, Shaun Ferguson.
Allen and the police discussed how the program wouldn’t work if the police queried the kids about the guns. Since the police care most about getting the guns out of the hands of children and off the streets in general, they agreed.
Because Allen grew up in similar circumstances to the children his initiative targets, he can connect with them. He understands that “they aren’t bad kids,” but they’ve been born “into bad circumstances.”
His first trade was with a young girl. In exchange for her fully loaded gun, he didn’t just give her a trumpet. He also gave her the contact information of volunteer musicians who are donating music lessons to the kids.
After Allen traded all the trumpets he had, he started a GoFundMe campaign to purchase more music supplies. The fundraiser is currently nearing $40,000 in donations.
He said that trumpet showed him a world of broader possibilities and opportunities for his life. He wants to give this to more kids:
So if I can create those little opportunities for one or two or three of them, they can actually bring that back to their neighborhood and do it all over again.Shamarr Allen
But with the way things have been taking off, it looks like Allen will be changing the lives of many more children than he first anticipated.
Article source: NPR
Featured image source: Tim Mosenfelder