by Sue Ann Rybak
Wayne Ellington, of the Brooklyn Nets, whose father was tragically shot and killed in Germantown last November, will participate in Peace Day Philly, a local initiative for the United Nations International Day of Peace in Mt. Airy on Monday, Sept. 21.
“I’m looking forward to connecting with the community in Philly and helping leaders reinforce that violence is not the answer,” said Ellington, who will walk in a march for peace organized in part by Parkway Northwest High School for Peace and Social Justice, 1100 E. Mount Pleasant Ave. in Cedarbrook. “Connecting with the youth and making sure they understand that the violence we see on TV and in the movies isn’t cool, and that there are better ways to work out issues is important to me. I want to help them see from an early age that peace is important and each one of them can make a difference in helping their community.”
Mt. Airy Native Lisa Parker, who co-founded Peace Day Philly, said the United Nations International Day of Peace encourages people around the world to help create a culture of peace “by adopting values and attitudes and ways of life that reject violence and prevent conflicts by tackling their root causes in order to solve problems through dialogue and negotiation.
“We are really excited about Peace Day Philly’s collaboration this year, inspired by the 2015 United Nations theme: “Partnerships for Peace – Dignity for All.” Peace Day is a day that we can not only hope for greater peace, but take action for peace in ways that are meaningful – whether related to personal peace, local action or becoming more globally engaged.”
She said Peace Day was “much more than attending a program or event,” adding that “programs allow for new knowledge, dialogue around different perspectives, healing and connecting, and becoming more aware of local and global issues related to peace.”
Principal Gina Steiner said that this year Parkway Northwest High School for Peace and Social Justice is celebrating its 10th anniversary.
“The Peace Walk will be an amazing way to start the new school year and to celebrate 10 years of promoting peace and striving to create social justice in all areas of life,” she said.
She said more than 200 students will march with peace signs as well as T-shirts with names of those who have been lost to violence in Philadelphia. The T-shirts will then become part of a T-Shirt Memorial to the Lost.
In addition to the high school, several local community organization also will be participating in the peace march, including Heeding God’s Call, Granny Peace Brigade Philadelphia, Mothers in Charge and many more.
Bob Fles, of Heeding God’s Call, an interfaith coalition of Northwest Philadelphia congregations and faith-based institutions devoted to ending gun violence, said the local chapter started displaying the T-Shirt Memorial to the Lost, as a simple but compelling demonstration of the scope of the carnage wrought by gun violence.
Fles, a former Chestnut Hill resident and teacher at Chestnut Hill Academy, said the number of lives lost to violence last year was approximately 220. However, because the police do not release all the names of victims, this year’s T-Shirt Memorial to the Lost will have 207 T-Shirts. He said the memorial will remain on the grounds of the seminary for a few days.
Parker, co-founder of Peace Day Philly, said the march will be followed by an outdoor gathering, during which participants will observe the global minute of silence at noon. Afterwards, students and parents will participate in interactive workshops, which will address elements of peace and social justice on personal, local and global levels at the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia, which has generously donated its space to use for the program.
Parker encouraged community members to join the March for Peace. People interested in participating in the walk for peace and social justice should meet at 9:45 a.m. at the Mt. Airy Playground at Sedgwick Street and Germantown Avenue. The three-block walk will begin promptly at 10 a.m. and end at Allen’s Lane and Germantown Avenue at the Lutheran Theological Seminary.
“Each year there is greater and greater level of engagement within cities across the world for Peace Day, and now we’re learning from each other and sharing our best efforts so that we can leverage each other’s successes and learn new ideas,” Parker said. “A whole global Peace Day network exists now, and will grow exponentially with social media. We hope that as this movement develops, civic leaders as well as funders will get involved in substantive ways that will support citizen and NGO efforts around this global day of local opportunity.”
For more information about Peace Day Philly go to www.peacedayphilly.org.