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For Black History Month, NewsOne honors GAME CHANGERS: Everyday heroes whose actions make life better for the people around them. SEE ALL OUR GAME CHANGERS HERE.


Mary-Pat Hector

Place of Residence: Lithonia, Ga.

Why She’s a Game Changer: Tired of going to her friend’s funerals, this Georgia teen launched an assault against the epidemic of gun violence.

After four of her friends were killed in incidences of gun violence, including one young person who was shot in the head, this smart 15-year-old launched the Think Twice Campaign which uses graphic images to get young people to think about the consequences of picking up a gun. The website shows people carrying caskets and the pain on people’s faces as they grieve for lost loved ones.

“Mothers crying over their casket, pictures of little babies that won’t ever have a chance to live or go to prom. Would you think twice about shooting this gun,”Hector told Fox 5.

“They don’t think about the daughter who will be raised without a father or the son who will be raised without a mother. That is why you have to encourage them to think twice before using that gun on another person,” Hector told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Hector adopted her idea from national campaigns against tobacco use or obesity that use grotesque, sometimes shocking imagery to get a point across. Such campaigns have been proven effective by lowered smoking rates and more attention focused on addressing the long-term effects of obesity.

“There are commercials that are anti-tobacco — they are gory. There are commercials against childhood obesity and crystal meth. I wondered why no one had done a shock ad campaign about gun violence. I felt like this was something I had to do,” she said.

With news of a new mass shooting seemingly every other week, who can argue with her?

“I saw that people were watching the news. They heard about a 5-year old girl that was shot and killed and they heard about a 10-year-old boy that was shot and killed and it was normal,” said Hector in explaining how she came up with the initiative.

MEALHector also heads the Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network Youth Initiative for Atlanta. She was recently awarded a $50,000 Peace First Prize to help with her mission and was recognized from the floor of the U.S. House by her local representative. A professional ad firm is working with her to produce more “Think Twice” messages.

“This isn’t just an issue that affects African-Americans. This isn’t just an issue that affects Latinos. This is an issue that affects all people,” said Hector.

Hector’s long-term goals include taking her “Think Twice” campaign national and then global while growing the National Action Network’s Youth Initiative. She also has another goal that, given her accomplishments at such a young age, no one should put beyond her.

“I will be President of the United States in 2044,” said Hector.

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