Stepping Up For Safe Schools
GAINESVILLE - Step up for safe schools. That's what an organization in Gainesville is trying to encourage students to do this school year. The rally is relevant this year as the country is still dealing with the after-effects of the school shooting in Newtown Connecticut.
Reverend Karl Anderson the founder of PAVE said, "Fourteen years ago there was a violent shooting occurring every month for a whole year at a particular school around the United States. You know i started thinking, what if something like that happened here. God impressed upon my heart to do something pro-active."
This is why he started People Against Violence Enterprises, or PAVE in Gainesville and with it came an annual peace rally before school started, called "Stop the Violence." The vision started 14 years ago when they gave away about 100 backpacks. Today that vision has grown from 100 to 1500 free backpacks, all with the help of meridian behavioral health care.
Richard Anderson is the Senior VP for Special Programs & New Initiatives for Meridian Behavioral Health Care, he said, "So we decided we'd do this as a pre-school rally where we would then distribute back packs filled with school supplies to make sure that we get people here to hear the message."
Step up for safe schools is this year's theme... It was inspired by school shootings. Rachel Scott was the first person killed in the Columbine High School tragedy on April 20th 1999. PAVE invited a speaker from "Rachel's Challenge," an organization that honors Rachel's life by telling the nation about her message.
Dave Gamache with Rachel's Challenge said, "Well Rachel's challenge believes the best way to fight violence is by focusing on kindness and compassion. So if we focus instead of in the violence on the power we have to make a difference by treating people with kindness, it can make a huge difference."
A difference PAVE is trying to promote in Gainesville.
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