NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Norfolk students are on a mission to take back the community.
On Thursday, Tidewater Park Elementary School students hit the pavement for a “Stop the Violence” march.
The march is partially in response to the violence in the community. In particular, two teenagers who were shot and killed in the last month were alumni of Tidewater Park Elementary school.
“Stuff happens dangerous around, so we want to like make it stop,” said fourth grader Tazhia Beale.
With every step, these students shared a message: they are tired of the violence.
“We marched around the whole Tidewater Gardens and we held up signs and we said stop the violence,” said fourth grade student Jayden Gilliam.
The march also serves as a reminder heading into the summer.
Principal Dr. Sharon Phillips said, “They have to make good decisions over the summer. We want them to be safe because we want them to return to us in the fall.”
She says the march is the culmination of “safe summer” week at school.
“They understand how important now, it is, to try to keep themselves safe,” Phillips said.
For some students, school is the only safe place they have.
“We wanted to make sure that they were equipped with information and tools and a message,” said Robert Williams, who helped organize the march and “safe summer” week. “The kids are concerned about their future, they’re concerned about community violence. They’re also concerned about, you know, having a safe summer and having resources and all those types of things.”
He says the march is not just about safety; it is also about empowerment. Williams said, “When they take the lead, we know that its a much more powerful message.”
It’s a message that reaches across generations, as students use every step to make a change.
“Have a safe summer and everybody needs to just talk things out and be real nice to each other,” said fourth grade student Zaemarion Freeman.