For some, April 14 may be the day before tax day, but for Healing Temple Head Start, it’s a day to make a stand against community violence, especially violence as it affects children.
For the last four years, Healing Temple Head Start has sponsored the march, which runs on Chicago Avenue between Cicero and Laramie avenues, in an effort to motivate residents, business owners and community members who live or work in the Austin community.
“Every year with the march, we want to make a statement,” says Healing Temple Head Start Executive Director Elizabeth Lockhart. “Far too many of our children are falling prey to violence and far too many adults turn a blind eye. We, as a community, are not doing enough. We need to do something so our children understand that there are those of us out there actually who care and are willing to do something about it.”
The “Say No To Violence!” march begins at 10 a.m. in the parking lot of the Healing Temple Church of God in Christ, located at 4941 W. Chicago Ave. The march will head west to Laramie Ave.; then across Chicago Ave.; east to Cicero; then return to Healing Temple.
The march is scheduled to coincide with the “Week of the Young Child,” an annual celebration which focuses public attention on the needs of young children and their families. It also celebrates child care programs and shows how vital they are for the children in our communities.
The “Week of the Young Child” was created by the National Association for the Education of Young Children in 1971, an advocacy organization with more than 90,000 members around the United States.
Healing Temple Head Start was founded in 1992 by Dr. Arthur Lockhart, founder and former pastor of Healing Temple Church of God in Christ #1, as a way to improve the lives of children in the Austin neighborhood through education. Elder Lockhart was committed to giving children the opportunity to succeed through education, and viewed the Head Start program as a way to start children off on the right foot.
“We believe that education, plus a strong community presence,” said Elder Larry Lockhart, current pastor of Healing Temple C.O.G.I.C., “are significant keys to putting our children on a proper path. But it has to be a community effort. The community has to work with the family of the children and for the families if we are to have an impact on stemming the violence in our neighborhoods.”
Dennis Morrison, CEO of The Acumen Group, a management consulting company in Chicago, which advises Head Start and day care centers, says neighborhood violence can have a profound negative effect on the development of children.
“The more violence a child is exposed to, the more likely they are to repeat that violence when they are older. One qualified way to eliminate the trend is for community leaders and individuals and get involved, showing that there are other ways to be successful in life other than path of violence that they see in their neighborhoods and communities.”
For more information about the march, call Charles Smoot or Tina Wilkerson at 773-287-6964, ext. 3 or e-mail them at firstname.lastname@example.org. Participants can also RSVP on Facebook at www.facebook.com/healing.temple.