Students march for peace in Gregory Park
In a news release, hundreds of placard-bearing students from Gregory Park Primary School in St Catherine marched in the community on Tuesday 7 March, calling for an end to crime and violence. The Peace Day event, under the theme ‘Mek Wi Grow In Peace’, was organised by the school and included residents from the area. It was supported by member of Parliament for St Catherine East Central, Hon. Alando Terrelonge; National Integrity Action (NIA); Social Development Commission (SDC); Youth Crime Watch of Jamaica; and several service clubs in the parish.
Terrelonge hailed the children, who led the march throughout the community, as exemplary young leaders. He noted that they are “calling for peace, for an end to the strife and surge of violence that has been plaguing Gregory Park and I want the residents to listen to them.” He said students are sending a message that they want the area to be rid of gangsters, who, though small in number, disrupt community life and “it is time for the residents to rise up against these oppressors, so that they can flee your community. They have no business here. I want the gang members to put down the weapons and take a lesson from these children. Peace costs nothing”, he said, noting that violence destroys.
Principal of the Gregory Park Primary School, Richard Williams, said he was pleased with the number of residents who came out to support and cheer on the students, noting that “we are looking to see what [will come out] of this peace march…. We believe that with the critical stakeholders coming together and speaking with one voice, we will send a strong message to the criminal elements that we stand in solidarity for our students to be given an opportunity to grow in an environment that is peaceful and conducive to them,” he added.
Parish manager of the Social Development Commission (SDC), Ishiwana Hope, said the agency saw the march as “very important in restoring peace in Gregory Park”, noting that the children have sent a clear message of peace to the adults.
Member of Youth Crime Watch Jamaica, Kerry-Ann Walker, for her part, welcomed the “message of hope” from the children and urged the community to act on the charge given by the students.
Schools across the country wore the symbolic blue in acknowledgment of Peace Day activities.