West Englewood’s Peace Fest provides ‘safe space’ to raise awareness and resources for gun violence in Chicago

Ruth Gomez and her mother, Maria Ruth Morales, watched as their two sons took turns coasting down a slide in the Peace Campus nature play lot in West Englewood on Saturday night.

Several different kids stood in line on the high of a hill close to the slide, ready their flip at a rope swing on the opposite aspect of the hill.

Across the road, kids and younger adults performed basketball and alongside the road, individuals walked from sales space to sales space studying about resources in their neighborhood.

The block occasion, Peace Fest, was organized by a bunch of neighborhood nonprofits — Imagine Englewood If, Think Outside Da Block and Moms Demand Action — on the We Grow Englewood Peace Campus.

It started about 2 p.m. on the nook of Honore and sixty fourth streets and wrapped up about 6 p.m.

“It’s a time to really celebrate community, celebrate healing,” stated Michelle “Chellee” Rashad, 30, govt director of Imagine Englewood If and of We Grow Englewood.

Rashad stated it was particularly essential this year for them to host the occasion throughout Wear Orange Weekend, the primary weekend of June marking the month as gun violence awareness month, after two latest mass shootings in a grocery retailer in Buffalo, New York, and in an elementary faculty in Uvalde, Texas.

It was additionally essential to carry awareness as communities in Chicago proceed to expertise gun violence each week, together with a taking pictures in Englewood the place a police officer was shot a number of blocks east of the Peace Campus, she stated.

“This country has a gun issue,” Rashad stated. “It has a gun violence issue on so many different levels.”

Rashad stated her staff wished to carry awareness to that subject but additionally wished to present a secure space for the neighborhood and particularly for younger individuals.

For 4 hours on Saturday afternoon, the Peace Campus, was that secure space for households like Gomez’s.

Music blasted from a DJ on stage and native musicians sang all through the occasion. People had hamburgers, brats and sizzling canines, danced, and walked round visiting with neighbors.

The block occasion introduced her peace, stated Gomez.

“I love seeing people get together,” she stated. “I feel like we need that more because nowadays it’s all technology.”

Gomez, 20, and her mother, 40, moved to West Englewood a few year in the past with Gomez’s 2-year-old, Eric, and Morales’s 3-year-old, John. Gomez first visited the Peace Campus a few month in the past, and when she got here throughout the character play lot, the murals and images painted on the homes alongside the block and the backyard in the nook stood out and she remembers pondering: “It looks so beautiful.”

When she came upon there could be an occasion on the campus, she instructed her mother they need to take the children, she stated.

“I feel like they have more fun,” Gomez stated of the boys enjoying with different neighborhood children.

Rodney Phillips, a subject supervisor for Chicago Metropolitan Peace Academy, used to be an outreach employee in Englewood. He stated it’s essential for neighborhood organizations to proceed to host occasions like Saturday’s to carry awareness to gun violence and to create extra secure areas for youth.

“Kids need to feel safe wherever they go,” Phillips stated. “We need to have more resources on the south and west sides of Chicago and Chicago should be open to everybody, especially the downtown area.”

Safe areas permit individuals not simply to be snug however to study and to share with others in their neighborhood, Rashad stated. That surroundings additionally permits neighborhood organizers to educate dad and mom about providers they could want however won’t know who to ask for assist.

When Rashad stood on the stage to introduce the host organizations and share extra in regards to the providers they provide, she seemed out to a sea of orange and was ready to see the a whole bunch of individuals.

“I just really want people to be present for peace,” she stated. “Because I do believe that when you’re present for peace, violence is absent.”

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