Just too briefly discuss my experiences at Sampson Park; I’d say it was a real “eye-opener.” To assist in promoting nonviolence was a privilege but our community has work to do. I observed children depreciate their area and there was no one telling them otherwise. The level of disrespect is high. Our role in the Super Bowl event on this past Saturday was to offer peace education through the arts. So AFSC set up an area where we would first explain to the youth what both peace and conflict were. Following the discussion, we helped them to express what peace meant to them through painting t-shirts. A lot of the kids were in competition, telling one another that their shirts weren’t as good as theirs. This discouragement caused conflict. I also witnessed some of the youth write the names of their “hoods” on the backs of their t-shirts. Instant segregation. As AFSC Interns, I’d say, me and the other interns tried our very best to create a environment for everyone to come and express themselves.
I remember one young girl asking if she could make a shirt for her mother because there was another girl next to her making a t-shirt with help from her mother. Unfortunately, we were unable to give her another shirt because we were backed up with other youth who still needed shirts. But before we could express that to her, one of the girls she came with said “I don’t know why you making her one cause it’s not like she coming out here to get it and if you bring it home it’s not like she’s gonna wear it.” The look on this young girls face struck me. I could only imagine the feeling of watching someone else’s great relationship with their parents and not having developed one with my own. Support from the parents, I believe, would have made all the difference on Saturday.-B. Kennedy