"If a day can make a difference, what a difference 40 days can make," stated East St. Louis Mayor Alvin L. Parks Jr.
Surrounded by city leaders from three other municipalities, Parks and treasurer Joe Lewis announced the 40 Days of Nonviolence initiative Tuesday afternoon in the East St. Louis council chamber. The 40 day event begins Jan. 25 and seeks to end violence in communities through education, awareness and job creation. The event begins with a breakfast featuring guest speaker Tracy Martin, the father of Trayvon Martin, and concludes March 5 with a prayer vigil.
Six themes drive the program: Clean Slate Day, Health Week, Military Services and First Responders Week, Education Week, Professional Development Week, and Unification Week.
"We have a good template" said Lewis. "What will make it work is everyone's participation."
Children in East St. Louis, Centreville, Washington Park and Alorton will have an opportunity to learn tennis during the 40 days. The program teamed up with the United States Tennis Association to expose children to the game of tennis. There are already 300 pre-registered for the Saturday programs at Lincoln Middle School.
"Youth need to know there are other options than violence," said Parks. "This is a pulling together of resources, to show off good options rather than bad."
Complementing the youth tennis program is Breaking the Barriers: The ATA and Black Tennis Pioneers exhibit from the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum's Traveling Exhibit Program. The exhibit is on display inside East St. Louis City Hall during the 40 days.
For more information, visit www.40daysofnonviolence.com