Joined by officers from the Pittsburgh and Port Authority police departments, staff from the YWCA and Urban League, students from various Pittsburgh Public Schools kicked off the district’s second annual “Month of Non-Violence” with music, food and games at Market Square.
The May 2 celebration was the brainchild of CAPA senior Khaliya Jackson, who said she borrowed the idea from the movie “Daddy Daycare.”
“We didn’t have an event last year, so I just wanted to give everyone a fun day outside to kick things off before summer—luckily, the weather cooperated, too,” she said. “We have representatives from the Pittsburgh Promise, the Center for Victims, the Urban League, the YWCA who can give students information on resources, and of course, we have the pledge for everyone to sign committing to a safe and non-violent summer.”
Other partners and resource fair participants included the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership, the U.S. Attorney’s office, the Allegheny County District Attorney’s office, CeaseFire PA, Feed the Hood, Kidsburgh, Learn and Earn, Mad Dads, and the Shyne Awards.
“And all the kids who sign the pledge get tickets for hot dogs and drinks, and everybody gets to play games and listen to the music,” said Jackson.
It didn’t take long for Superintendent of Schools Anthony Hamlet, EdD, to get into the spirit by joining a game of bean bag toss with kids and police officers. He said the kick-off event was a great idea.
“I think this is awesome,” he said. “Moreover, it’s important to bring attention to violence, whether its gun violence or domestic violence. We’re trying to develop strategies that these kids can use so they go through the summer with that in the forefront of their minds—the commitment to non-violence—so they come back to us safe in the fall.”
For the entire month of May, the district and its community partners will collaborate to promote non-violence and raise awareness that non-violence requires everyone working together. Students will voice their commitment to changing the negative narrative involving youth violence throughout the month and by signing the Safe Summer Pledge.
The critical thing, Dr. Hamlet said, is that this is student-led initiative, designed to change the negative narrative surrounding youth violence.
In addition to the kick-off, the district has scheduled several events and activities designed to highlight ways students can address violence. Brashear High School has planned daily student and police circle conversations through May 11, and student-led “Say Something” sessions in civics classes on May 30.
At Westinghouse 6-12, students are tentatively scheduled to teach class sessions and discuss the root causes of violence, social media and its impact on school violence, the increase in violent acts among females, and reducing violence in schools. These sessions will be held in classrooms throughout the school. The times and dates are to be determined but would be in conjunction with Bring Your Father To School Day on Friday, May 18.
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