ROSELAND — Two members of an innovative program that takes kids from the South and West sides to parts of the city they've never seen survived gunshot wounds recently, the group's founder said.
Neither of the shootings happened during the acclaimed "My Block, My Hood, My City" tours that aim to connect young Chicagoans to their city — essentially turning them into tourists in their own town.
Jahmal Cole, the founder of the nonprofit, had said he was trying to erase stigmas of some city neighborhoods and open the eyes of teens who have never left their neighborhoods, giving them a chance to see what Chicago has to offer.
Two teens participating in the program — Cole calls them explorers — were shot and are now recovering.
One of the victims, a 16-year-old North Lawndale resident, was shot in the eye. Another — a 17-year-old Roseland resident and football player — was shot in the knee, Cole said.
The Roseland teen has traveled to Pilsen and visited the National Museum of Mexican Art. The North Lawndale teen has visited Willis Tower.
Cole said what happened was tragic, but the shootings wouldn't be used as an excuse to stop the trips.
"We're not going to let this incident get us down," he said.
The family of the Roseland teen said they wanted to "put everything behind them" and they were "glad the shooter got arrested."
The family declined to comment further.
Cole said the Roseland teen was picking up his girlfriend, and when he got to the building's entrance, he was stopped by two young men.
"One of the guys said something out of line to her," Cole said.
"One pulled out a gun and said, 'You already know what this is'" before robbing the teen explorer, Cole said.
"All I know is that [he] was shot over a pair of Jordans," said Cole.
Cole said the Roseland teen was going to be all right and was doing rehab since being shot.
He questioned the shooters' motives on Facebook.
"There have been so many shootings in the city this year. I wonder what the shooters’ motivations were. I’m left wondering why the shooters’ compassion for these explorers failed. Our society, locally and globally, seems to be increasingly dehumanizing."
Cole told DNAinfo it's important to kids on a positive path early.
"We have to reach these kids before they start picking up weapons and get them before the gang-bangers and drug dealers do," he said.
He said he would continue pushing for a more interconnected Chicago.
"If someone gets robbed in Roseland, then it should matter to the people in Uptown, and if there is someone homeless in Uptown, it should matter to people in Roseland," he said. "A chain is only as strong as its weakest link, and Chicago is only as strong as its most under-resourced community. That’s what I always say to my explorers."
For more neighborhood news, listen to DNAinfo Radio here: