Watertown Groups Walk to Spread Peace, Healing & Against Gun Violence

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Watertown Walks for Peace

Dozens of Watertown residents took part in the 2019 Mother's Day Walk for Peace in Dorchester.

Dozens of Watertown residents took part in the 2019 Mother’s Day Walk for Peace in Dorchester.

Watertown Walks for Peace provided the following piece:

Despite the rainy and cold weather on Mother’s Day, over 75 Watertown youth, their parents, and other residents joined others from Boston and surrounding communities in the Mother’s Day Walk for Peace from Fields Corner in Dorchester to Government Center.

The seven-mile walk raises funds and awareness for the Louis D. Brown Peace Institute, a center of healing, teaching, and learning for families and communities impacted by murder, grief, trauma, and loss.

Two Watertown Groups walking together. The Watertown group, Watertown Walks for Peace, actually included two groups who joined together – Watertown Youth Walks for Peace, with 17 students from the Middle and High School and 12 of their parents; and 45 other individuals and families from Watertown community groups and churches, including First Parish Watertown and Church of the Good Shepherd. Together the two groups required two school buses for transportation to and from the

Mark Harris, minister at First Parish Watertown and an organizer of Watertown Walks for Peace since 2014, was gratified with this year’s participation: “Despite the rain and cold, there was a wonderful turnout from Watertown from various churches and community groups. It’s always exciting and moving to see people from all over greater Boston participate in this, and to know that there are many people working to prevent gun violence.”

Ruth Henry, a teacher from Watertown Middle School who worked with students to dramatically increase participation in this year’s walk, said “I am so impressed with our students and their families for stepping up this year to show that we care what is happening to young people just a few subway stops away, and that we are willing to wake up at dawn and march through the rain to show it. This is truly the kind of youth leadership that makes me proud to call Watertown my home.”

Fundraising goal exceeded. Watertown Walks for Peace raised $3255 (over 50 individual donations) for the Louis D. Brown Peace Institute – exceeding its initial target of $2,500 by 30 percent. In addition, the event received $800 in financial support (for bus transportation and other expenses) from World in Watertown; Watertown Citizens for Peace, Justice, and the Environment; and the Survival Education Fund.

Students from Watertown Middle School and Watertown High School joined the 2019 Mother’s Day Walk for Peace.

Personal reflections from Watertown Walkers. Equally important, Watertown Walks for Peace made a real difference for the walkers themselves, as it increased their awareness, in personal and immediate ways, about the tragic effects of gun violence in our society. Here’s what several of the walkers said about the experience:

“It’s always really an amazing and emotional experience because you talk to moms who‘ve lost their children. Even if you don’t talk to anyone, you walk along, and you see the tee shirts and posters with faces of people who have been lost to gun violence. It’s really an important step for Watertown and all the communities around Boston to come in and show solidarity with these families” — Caroline Bays, Watertown resident and Town Councilor

“I think it’s been a wonderful experience for all of us as a family just bearing witness, and being able to recognize our own privilege while walking. It’s really too difficult to escape it … the fact that we are riding on the bus back to Watertown … we are able to leave all of this mostly behind us.” — Roma Jerome, Watertown parent who walked with her husband and two elementary school children.

“What I thought was most moving was to see the pictures of people who had passed away, who had been taken by gun violence … that really brought it home … I could see that it had some meaning, and so it wasn’t just a walk. At the end, that brought it all together for me.” — Suresh Annavarapu, member of First Parish who walked with his wife and two children.

“It’s a good opportunity to share that with my kids … where I grew up, and the struggle that people are going through … We all are responsible and we all should support them any way we can … and it’s kind of opening that dialogue and making my kids aware of this situation.” — Ben Jerome, Watertown parent who grew up in Dorchester, and walked with his family.

“The overall experience was very tiring … we went 6 or 7 miles … but in the end it was worth it, especially when you know what you’re doing this for. It was overall a good time when we got to the end … everyone was cheering … and you also had people like cheering you half way through …. you’re not alone there.” — Shannon, age 14

“It was kind of sad to see the people who had the shirts that like had the loved ones that got killed by gun violence. And kind of tiring, because you have to walk a long time. And I kind of felt that I’m getting stronger, cuz I’m doing it now without my dad having to carry me sometimes. And I did again for the fourth year.” — Tia, age 8

“It was very interesting. I mean it’s very tiring to walk 7 miles … right? And your feet start to hurt. But it’s also really interesting to see how many people joined the walk and how many who couldn’t but still like supported. A bunch of people giving out water … it was very interesting to see how many people actually cared about this.” — Ranjan, age 12

“So the experience was actually very charming … towards the end I felt like my feet were going to fall off but we were like sailing in and it made me forget about that. I thought it was very fun and it was a great experience for me.” — Akash, age 8

“I liked how many people were giving out free snacks … and your feet also start hurting after 7 miles of walking.” – Kai, age 8

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