ST. LOUIS – Taking steps to be a part of the community and taking on gun violence in St. Louis as some of St. Louis’s smallest citizens took to the streets Wednesday.
“We march for peace, for everyone to make the city a better place,” says Tristan McCloud, a 7-year-old marcher.
“Today we are having the 30th annual Peace Parade,” says Tim Ripplinger, Board President of Midtown Community Services. “Midtown Community Services has been doing this for 30 years. We got a lot of violence in the city and kids being shot and killed and this is the chance for our kids to march and have their voices be heard.”
The non-profit organization, Midtown Community Services began their annual Summer Academy Day camp in June.
Like any camp, they take field trips, take part in sports, and educational activities
But the six-week camp culminates with the peace parade up and down Manchester.
“When I first start I get kind of nervous,” says Jordin Moore, 10-year-old marcher. “But then when I get used to it, I start screaming and I’m happy.”
“What we’re hearing from the kids is that they don’t always feel safe,” says Ripplinger. “They don’t always feel safe in their neighborhood. Kids aren’t old enough to vote or influence policy but this is a way for their voice to be heard.”
On Wednesday morning, 75 children, ages 5 to 12, carried homemade signs and made their voices heard in a city that’s seen more than 12 children lose their life to homicide since January.
“Having a conversation with our kiddos about things they see, that need to improve in the neighborhood, so they really need to know once we’re out there doing our chants there`s a meaning behind all of our chants,” says camp counselor Barbara Schaefer. “So, they know what needs to be changed in their neighborhoods.”
“When you see something going on and it’s not your business, just stay out of the drama,” said Moore. “But also hurry up and call for help so it doesn’t get too far because you never know what could happen because life is very short.”