Mock funeral a lesson in life for Englewood youth

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A mock funeral was held for at-risk youth Wednesday in an attempt to prevent dangerous behavior. (WLS)

The words boom from the front of the church in Englewood: "If you put your mama through this because of your stupidity, you don't love your mama."

They are aimed at about 60 young people who are possibly just a couple poor decisions away from this mock funeral being very real.

Shareef Peoples, a senior at Tilden High School, is one of them. He said, "It's been multiple times I almost lost my life to gun violence. Drive-bys, stores getting robbed."

The young people are considered at-risk. Most of these teenaged boys are surrounded by bad influences and routinely exposed to gangs, drugs and guns.

The Ada S. McKinley Foundation is working with a group called "I Will Not Die Young" to help them before it's too late.

"We wanted to have them more than just mourn the loss. We wanted to be proactive in the prevention of loss," said Venise Harvey, director of the foundation.

The mock funeral comes complete with a program for what they call "your funeral," which comes complete with a space for "your name here."

At the culmination of the program, they each approach the casket. Inside, there is a mirror where they see themselves.

"When they see that casket there's a moment to reflect and a moment to make a change and it can happen just that quick," said Kwabena Antoine Nixon, of "I Will Not Die Young."
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