A young man walked up to the microphone during one of Education, Arts & Culture’s “Season for Nonviolence” workshops at Washington Alternative School, and began to speak to his peers.
“I got caught with pills at school, and I want to make a change,” he said. “I’ve been listening this past week about how people are scared walking down their streets in their neighborhoods. And I want to know what you all are going to do about that?”
And then another student got up and walked to the front of the room to speak, followed by others.
Students participated in painting their hopes and dreams on the first “We Believe” mural, in partnership with Josh Coleman, art instructor at Washington Alternative School, which was unveiled during Chattanooga’s “Season for Nonviolence”—inspiring other schools and community centers across the city to join in and participate in a city-wide message of peace and nonviolence.
City of Chattanooga Department of Education, Arts & Culture Administrator Missy Crutchfield is now calling Washington Alternative School Hamilton County’s “Leadership School” in the making. She said, “One hundred percent of these students are leaders. One hundred percent of these students have great courage, and the ability to take risks. Many of these students have an understanding of business that I believe some Chamber members don’t even have. But it was the wrong business, the wrong product. They were misdirected, they were off-track, not connected with their true purpose and leading others down the wrong path. Now that’s changing, now they are making a commitment to being the change.”
Ms. Crutchfield thanks community partners and guests making appearances for EAC’s “Season for Nonviolence” workshops at Washington Alternative including Rev. John L. Edwards and John L. Edwards III from Mary Walker Foundation. Rev. Edwards marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. during the Civil Rights Movement and he spoke to the students about making a change in their lives now and leading the way to a better future for their generation. Recording artist T-Ran Gilbert visited to speak with students about achieving their dreams. City Councilman Manny Rico spoke to the students about the importance of tolerance and diversity and respecting differences.
Education, Arts & Culture will be reaching out to schools, centers, and communities with the “We Believe” mural project. To schedule a "Season for Nonviolence" workshop session and “We Believe” mural project at your school or community center contact Education, Arts & Culture at 425-7823.