I Came, I Saw and I Marched

My generation believes we can make favorable and lasting changes that will make our society more safe and fair. At the I Am For Peace march that took place this month, 3,000 Perspectives Charter Schools students, family members, staff and community leaders held one of the largest student-led peace events in the city's history. We were joined by schools, churches and businesses throughout the city, suburbs and America. Mayor Rahm Emanuel also came to the march. Before the march I often heard, even from close friends and family, that marching for peace was a waste of time. “It won’t change anything,” they said. My experience told me otherwise. The event inspired me and I saw thousands of people motivated to march with us in support of our cause. It was a blessing to participate in something so special, so real and so positive. Through “I Am For Peace” and the “A Disciplined Life” educational model at Perspectives, I feel empowered to voice my opinion and to think about possible solutions to our most pressing challenges in Chicago. I feel strongly that the voices of young people like me should be considered when it comes to making our communities safe and more peaceful. “A Disciplined Life” is a set of life skills that teach me to be a good person and a dedicated student. “Demonstrate honesty and integrity,” and “take initiative” are two of the 26 principles that teach us to be ethical leaders. These principles help us develop positive self-worth, healthy relationships and the tools to be productive. They inspired my peers to develop the “I Am For Peace” movement and we know it will continue to inspire even more youth to cultivate peace in our communities. I want to continue the good work already set out by my friends who will be going to college in the fall. During my senior year at Perspectives/IIT Math & Science Academy, I will continue to be an ambassador for peace. I will carry the momentum of the peace march into the summer where I will attend a peace camp hosted by Perspectives to learn more about becoming an even stronger activist for peace. I want to be a positive role model to my younger peers who will lead the next phase of “I Am For Peace.” I am proud to be a part of a student-led movement that aims to make positive changes for all of us. “I Am For Peace” is real and it puts a lot of my schoolwork and daily activities into perspective. Marching with my peers was amazing. It was great to feel so much positive energy and love in our city that has become known for violence. It felt good and it felt right to do something positive in public with my peers. We are the future.  
Nekaybaw Clark is a senior at Perspectives/IIT Math & Science Academy and is a student peace ambassador at her campus.
Photo of I Am For Peace march courtesy of Jason Brown Photography.
Nekaybaw Clark is a senior at Perspectives/IIT Math & Science Academy and is a student peace ambassador at her campus. As a peace ambassador, she leads peace programming at her campus and is planning the 2016 Peace March.

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