For some kids in Chicago, life is a war zone. But these military vets offer safe routes to school.

Chicago is a world-renowned city. But for too many kids, it's downright dangerous.

Despite the fact that Chicago is home to several museums, a giant lake, and a free zoo, between 2010 and 2014, 114 Chicago schoolchildren were murdered.

Some were just walking home from school.


All GIFs via NationSwell.

But as you'll see in this video from NationSwell, hundreds of people are doing their part to create safer neighborhoods.

Hakki Gurkan, military veteran and former Chicago police officer, stepped up with a program called Safe Passage.

Hakki Gurkan serves overseas and at home. Image by NationSwell.

After serving in Turkey, Iraq, and Afghanistan, Hakki returned home to a mountain of family medical bills and student debt. He joined Chicago-based Leave No Veteran Behind, a nonprofit that provides retroactive scholarships to veterans in exchange for service to the community.


The goal of Safe Passage, Hakki's service project, is two-fold: protect children and teens from violence and gang activity while also providing transitional jobs for vets re-entering civilian life.

He launched Safe Passage in 2011. The program put military veterans on patrol to help students get to and from school safely.

Unarmed veteran employees and community members stand at key points along the "high risk" routes to over 100 schools in some of Chicago's toughest areas.

Safe Passage does not provide security and instead offers a positive adult presence, employing community engagement strategies to build trust and engage with the students they serve.

Safe Passage schools saw a 20% decline in criminal incidents and a 51% decline in student disciplinary reports.

The schools also improved attendance by 7%. And the program a huge win for returning veterans.

Since launch, over 400 vets have participated in Safe Passage. It allows them to earn a steady income while seeking long-term employment while giving back to their community using skills they honed in the service.

In fall 2014, Illinois announced a $10 million investment in Safe Passage.

That's on top of the $1 million Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel pledged just months prior.

Together, the funds will expand the program to 133 schools, serving 16% of Chicago Public School students daily.

Now, 69,000 children can focus on their schoolwork instead of their safety.

Veterans, community members, and elected officials coming together to build safer, healthier neighborhoods — that's something we can all salute.

To see Safe Passage in action, check out this mini-documentary from NationSwell:

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In 1945, the world had just endured the bloodiest war in history. World leaders were determined to not repeat the mistakes of the past. They wanted to build a better future, one free from the "scourge of war" so they signed the UN Charter — creating a global organization of nations that could deter and repel aggressors, mediate conflicts and broker armistices, and ensure collective progress.

Over the following 75 years, the UN played an essential role in preventing, mitigating or resolving conflicts all over the world. It faced new challenges and new threats — including the spread of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction, a Cold War and brutal civil wars, transnational terrorism and genocides. Today, the UN faces new tensions: shifting and more hostile geopolitics, digital weaponization, a global pandemic, and more.

This slideshow shows how the UN has worked to build peace and security around the world:

1 / 12

Malians wait in line at a free clinic run by the UN Multidimensional Integrated Mission in Mali in 2014. Over their 75 year history, UN peacekeepers have deployed around the world in military and nonmilitary roles as they work towards human security and peace. Here's a look back at their history.

Photo credit: UN Photo/Marco Dormino

Who would have thought that giving the world access to all human knowledge via the internet, the ability to follow and hear from experts on any subject via social media, and the ability to see what's happening anywhere in the world via smartphones with cameras would result in a terrifying percentage of the population believing and spouting nothing but falsehoods day in and day out?

Those of us who value facts, reason, and rational thought have found ourselves at some of our fellow citizens and thinking, "Really? THIS is how you choose to use the greatest tool humanity has ever created? To spew unfounded conspiracy theories?"

It's a marvel, truly.

Between Coronavirus/Bill Gates/5G conspiracies and QAnon/Evil Cabal/Pedophile conspiracies, I thought we were pretty much full up on kooky for 2020. But apparently not. The massive fires up and down the West Coast have ignited even more conspiracy theories, some of which local law enforcement and even the FBI have had to debunk.

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True

In 1945, the world had just endured the bloodiest war in history. World leaders were determined to not repeat the mistakes of the past. They wanted to build a better future, one free from the "scourge of war" so they signed the UN Charter — creating a global organization of nations that could deter and repel aggressors, mediate conflicts and broker armistices, and ensure collective progress.

Over the following 75 years, the UN played an essential role in preventing, mitigating or resolving conflicts all over the world. It faced new challenges and new threats — including the spread of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction, a Cold War and brutal civil wars, transnational terrorism and genocides. Today, the UN faces new tensions: shifting and more hostile geopolitics, digital weaponization, a global pandemic, and more.

This slideshow shows how the UN has worked to build peace and security around the world:

1 / 12

Malians wait in line at a free clinic run by the UN Multidimensional Integrated Mission in Mali in 2014. Over their 75 year history, UN peacekeepers have deployed around the world in military and nonmilitary roles as they work towards human security and peace. Here's a look back at their history.

Photo credit: UN Photo/Marco Dormino

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Katie Neeves (L) photo by Jayne Walsh, JK Rowling (R) photo by Sjhill, CC BY-SA 3.0

Dear JK Rowling,

I am writing this letter to say a big thank you to you. You may think it strange that a gobby trans woman such as me would wish to thank you after all your recent transphobic outpourings, but let me explain…

I certainly don't thank you for your lengthy essay last month where you describe the abuse you have suffered (for which you have my sympathy) and in which you stated that you do not hate trans people, while at the same time peddling even more anti-trans mis-information. Sadly, your diatribe directly caused some trans children to self-harm and other to attempt suicide.

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