A sense of unity filled an auditorium in Rockford on Sunday morning. Parents and their children joined in song and dance on Youth Day, promoting positivity to counteract violence that has involved some of Rockford’s youngest community members.
Dozens gathered at the University of Illinois College of Medicine in Rockford to bring awareness to the violence that has plagued the youth of the Rockford community. Kids themselves were invited to express themselves during Sunday’s event through song and dance.
Herbert Johnson, pastor at Freedom: A Church Without Walls, says maintaining constant conversation with young people is an important part of preventing that violence.
“We sat down and we discussed the climate of our city,” said Johnson. “If you’ve noticed, violence is on the rise. Many young people are feeling hopeless, discouraged.”
Johnson believes now is the best time to fix the problems within the community.
“You have often heard it said that our young people are the future. I believe young people are the present,” said Johnson.
The program is set on adopting healthier and safer lifestyles for kids.
“Many of them come from broken homes, and so what we wanted to do this year was, we wanted to embrace young people,” said Johnson. “Bring in hope and [encouragement to] other young people.”
Kids from the ytouth group went up on stage to speak about the importance of educating their peers.
The Matsiko World Orphan Choir from Seattle joined in, too. Children as young as 10 years old traveled with the choir group to spread a message of hope and peace.
Matsiko member, Lawrence Teah, says they hope what they do can help inspire kids to create a better and safer community in Rockford.
“People can be moved by that,” said Teah. “People can understand the nature of society and to work in collaboration to work to make things better in society.”
Some of the children in the choir group came from the Himalayan mountain area. The group brings a new set of children to experience the culture of the United States