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KIPP Indy uses police shootings to teach empowerment

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – A recent project at a local school is asking kids to answer a very simple, yet complex question.

And they’re tackling a subject that many adults don’t want to talk about.

It came out of an impromptu assignment from their teacher, Kris Gouty.

Gouty asked: why their life matters.

She says what she wanted them to do was think of themselves as who they are, not what they often see.

“They need to be validated, they need that positive affirmation that they matter, that they are wonderful and they shouldn’t be feared,” said Kris Gouty, the athletic director at KIPP Indy.

Her homeroom class made a video showing why their life matters. She thought of making the video after Terence Crutcher was killed in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

“Just talk about it, bring the conversation up to the forefront,” said Gouty.

She says her class openly talked about Crutcher’s death and even watched the video when the helicopter pilot said Crutcher looked like a “bad dude.”

“My life matters because I am a strong, black beautiful woman and I said I am the next generation,” said Arianna Jenkins, an 11-year-old 6th grader who took part in the video.

Crutcher’s son is a KIPP 6th grader in Tulsa.

Being part of the project brought about a mix of emotions for 13-year-old Kenyon Cooper.

“Kind of sad and happy at the same time because the people on there had some really good things to say,” said Cooper.

“It really just came out of a necessity and need for our kids and realizing that we have to call out what’s going on,” said Dominique Cureton, an administrator and literacy teacher at the school. It was more just a call or a feeling or responsibility as their nurturers that we have to call out what’s going on and give them an avenue to express their feelings.”

In an email the day after Crutcher was killed, the CEO of KIPP asked the leaders of their 200 schools to talk about what’s going on and to take a stand. The local school here said talking about the issues is only enhancing their education.

“I don’t think it’s doing our students justice to not speak about it and to pretend like this isn’t a problem because it is a problem that are facing day in and day out,” said Gouty.