WASHINGTON PARK — Residents can learn approaches to reducing gun violence at a series of peace-focused events in South Side communities this month while exploring the host neighborhoods.
A Washington Park peace walk begins 10:15 a.m. Saturday at Greater Bethesda Church, 109 E. 53rd St. Attendees will head out for a 1-mile walk through the Washington Park neighborhood before returning to the church for a rally and food around 11:30 a.m.
The peace walk is intended to familiarize Chicagoans with the community beyond its namesake park and encourage residents to organize around important issues, said Antonio Davis, Paving the Way Project founder.
“We’ll show everybody how the neighborhood is and what’s the needs,” Davis said. Attendees will talk about food access during their stroll along 51st Street, and “at 53rd, [there’s] a playground there that the youth don’t really use because it’s in such a bad shape.”
They’ll also talk about businesses coming to 55th Street, Davis said.
At the post-walk rally, residents can share ideas for neighborhood improvement and suggest programs to the organizations running the event, Davis said.
On Aug. 28, Paving the Way will partner with St. Elizabeth Church’s food pantry and Kids Off the Block for the Summer in the Street event with giveaways. Paving the Way will then begin preparing for its annual Breakfast with Santa event in December, Davis said.
Strides for Peace and The Kindness Campaign also will hold a peace rally Aug. 27 at 701 E. 75th St. The Civic Orchestra of Chicago will perform original songs written in collaboration with parents who have lost children to gun violence.
Much like the Washington Park event, the Greater Grand Crossing rally will show residents united on “a positive front, to counter the headlines with images and stories about the communities that really amplify their beauty [and] resilience,” Stonor Saunders said.
“When the summer happens and the gun violence escalates, the headlines about these communities tend to weigh on the negative,” she said. “People in these communities get a bit dehumanized and all they’re thought of is as a problem.”
Two other peace events will be held on the South and West sides before the Strides for Peace annual Race Against Gun Violence in Grant Park Sept. 23. More details will be released soon, Saunders said.
For more information on the race, click here.
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