[pullquote]At STO church mentor program, art competition encourages #WestPullman youth to fight violence, create a #SafeChicago[/pullquote]
The “Stop The Violence” Artistic Expression Competition welcomed songs, raps, poems, dance routines, drawings or any form of creative expression—and offered a $100 prize for the most powerful statement.
Designed to provide youth in the community with a safe, positive outlet for learning and connecting, the Anti-Violence and Mentoring Program teaches skills that range from anger management and coping with peer pressure, to academic success and job readiness.
This solo performer placed a tape outline representing a fallen body on the ground, then performed a skit imagining the aftermath of a death by gun violence. “But what about picking up your sister from school?” he asked. “Now, who will take her on a bike ride?”
Showing solidarity from the Chicago Police Department’s 5th District, Officer Crawford addressed the friends and family who gathered in the late afternoon sun.
In addition to the creative entertainment, the Fun Fest also greeted neighbors with free food, music and a school supply giveaway.
After the performances—and a difficult decision for the judges—Rev. Michael A. Jones, I honored the day’s most outstanding artist with a trophy and a $100 award.
As Chicago faced an escalation of violence over the holiday weekend, communities across the city gathered together to create safe spaces like this one—building trust, strengthening bonds, refusing to abandon their neighborhoods to violence, or to ever stop working toward peace.
One young artist shared his vision of a more peaceful world: a crayon drawing of Superman, with the words “It doesn’t take a hero to stop violence. It can stop with just one difference. You.”