Philly teens: With the city in crisis, will you help us change it?

On the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, the city was about to witness a record 500 murders, a tragic sign of the extent of Philadelphia’s meltdown. As students at Parkway Center City Middle College, we have felt the effects of our turbulent city, especially when it comes to violence and the relationships people like us have with the police. There are many students in our school who have siblings, cousins, parents or friends who have been killed or injured by guns, and even more who have had negative experiences with police officers.

But like the Parkway students before us, we want to help make change happen and make Philadelphia a better place for everyone, which is why we’re resuming our annual fundraising and community event this year – which took place the Tuesday before Thanksgiving – and hopefully in the next year, it will spread to more high schools in All over the city.

In 2019, students at our school held the “Parkway Plays for Peace!” An event in which youth played basketball against police officers. The goal was to build relationships between our community and strength and raise funds for Moms Bonded by Grief, an organization for grieving mothers dedicated to providing guidance and support to families who have lost loved ones to gun violence. Highlights of the 2019 tournament included sophomore Joshua Howard’s half-court shot to beat the Seniors in the final student-only game.

»Read more: In Play For Peace, Parkway Student Activists Confront Police – In Basketball | Helen Aubenas

In addition to being a truly fun event, this day was a reminder that even in this time, when police – sometimes justifiably – are not always painted in the best light, there is still hope for positive relationships with young people like us. We’ve also raised a few thousand dollars for a worthy cause.

After stopping in 2020 due to the pandemic, we’re relaunching the event this year. On Tuesday, November 23, students from our school participated in a peaceful flag football tournament with police officers from District 17. The aim of this event, like the one before it, was to build goodwill between students like us and police officers, and to raise money again for Moms Bonded by Grief. We raised $4,200.

The time we shared an amazing show of “brotherly love” was, and we hope other high schools will follow suit next year.

As Parkway seniors, we know it’s up to the ranks of the future to ensure this important tradition does not go away. In fact, we want the tradition to extend to the whole city. We want schools across the city to participate in “Tuesday Before,” with events that build connections between high school students and police officers from each district and collect donations for a worthwhile cause.

Read more: Philly Teen for Florida Teen: Would you stand in solidarity with us? | Helen Aubenas

We have learned through this experience that individuals can make a difference and would be happy to advise any school that would like to create their own version of this event next year. The game has begun!

Princess Parker, Daisha Walker-Briggs, Zika Wright, Bryant Carter and Kahlil Odom are seniors at Parkway Center City Middle and helped organize the event.

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