• Rochester march promotes message of peace

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    From left, Nytazia Brooks, Taje McGee and Majahzi Jacque, all of Rochester, encourage motorists to honk for peace during Thursday’s youth march.

    In an event designed to coincide with the start of school summer vacation, more than 200 youths and adults marched along Genesee Street on Thursday to promote a safe summer.

    Teen Empowerment’s Southwest Youth Peace March and Celebration kicked off at the bus loop in front of Wilson Magnet High School Foundation Academy and made its way to the Flint Street Community Center, where kids were treated to music, food and numerous recreational activities.

    “It’s Time to Change the Game … Peace!” was the theme and message promoted.

    Doug Ackley, director of Teen Empowerment of Rochester, said the event made tangible the desires of many youths in the area.

    “Part of it’s about people, part of it’s people trying to figure out how to deal with conflict, and another part of it is youths being able to speak out, kind of take back and own their community, and speak out for what they need,” Ackley said.

    He added that that peace — as in peace of mind — comes with better housing, justice, jobs and people being able to live decently.

     

    “So many people are struggling. We have to find a way to be peaceful as a community.”

    With music, food, games, pony rides and basketball, Thursday’s event aimed to be a step in the right direction.

    Ackley is also hopeful the theme underscores a tipping point — the point where community members collectively say enough is enough.

    That’s exactly what 19th Ward parent Kiniesha Randle, 20, said is needed in the area.

    “We need more youth activities and more organizations to get youths off the street,” Randle said.

    Randle, who brought her 3-year-old daughter Kamiyah to the event, said it provided a much-needed change of pace.

    “In this area in general there’s a lot of violence, a lot of crime, a lot of shooting,” she said. “Being a mother with a young child, it is scary to go outside, walk down the street or take your baby to the park or for a walk without fearing that maybe a fight may break out, a shooting or something like that.

    “That’s why I’m here to send the message that we want peace in our community,” Randle said. “We want peace in our neighborhood. We want to be able to walk places without fearing being harmed.”

    The event was made possible through a collaboration involving the city of Rochester, the Southwest Area Neighborhood Association, Pathways for Peace, Boys and Girls Clubs of Rochester, and Wilson Foundation Academy.

     

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