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Groups to promote peace, awareness in Riverdale

By Joel Hall

jhall@news-daily.com

Local churches and community groups will meet in Riverdale to promote peace, unity, and community awareness in several events on Saturday.

Starting at 8 a.m., Christians for Change Baptist Church in Riverdale will host it's eighth annual 5K Unity Run/Walk.

With it's long-running theme of "Walking in the community ... in unity," the run/walk will take a 2.9-mile loop, starting from Travon Wilson Memorial Park. Runners will leave exactly at 8 a.m., and walkers will leave five minutes later, heading west on Bethsaida Road, north on Evans Drive, north on Church Street, east on Mimosa Street, south on Powers Street, and ending back at the park.

"The whole thrust is to bring community residents, leaders, and county officials together for a nice walk ... that's it," said run/walk organizer, Jewell Lewis. "There's a lot of laughing, a lot of sharing of information ... it's very unique."

During the event, organizers will accept canned goods, which will be used to replenish the Clayton County Department of Family and Children Services' (DFCS) food pantry. All participants will be able to purchase official T-shirts, bearing a logo designed by Riverdale Elementary fourth-grader, Chernor Berry, winner for last year's 5K Unity Run/Walk Art Contest.

Acting as emcee for the event will be 1260 AM WTJH radio personality, Sir Charles, "The Motivator" of the Sir Charles Gospel Show.

This year, the Stop the Violence campaign, led by community activist and Clayton County substitute teacher, Valerie Hamilton, will join in the 5K Unity Run/Walk. Originally, Stop the Violence was scheduled to have an event in Riverdale on Sunday, but decided to combine its efforts with Christians for Change Baptist Church.

"We were going to do a walk on Sunday, but we decided to join [Lewis'] event, because it's about unity," said Hamilton. "I'm really concerned about the youth in Clayton County. We need to try to bring the community together in concern to all the issues effecting Clayton County."

"It's not a protest walk," Hamilton continued. "It's a walk for us to be on one accord. I think we have a lot of issues in Clayton County. People have to step outside of the box and be concerned about the community, rather than just their own families."

In addition to walking in the 5K Unity Run/Walk, Stop the Violence will honor the memories of Eve Carson, Krystal Williams, Larry Bishop, Travon Wilson, and other young people murdered in violent acts over the last several years.

At 1 p.m., at the Virginia Gray Recreation Center, located at 1475 East Fayetteville Road in Riverdale, Knowledge of the Proactive Enterprise (KOPE), Inc., will host "PeaceSpeak 2008." The event is aimed at educating those aged 25 and younger about the history and importance of voting.

"The purpose of this event Saturday is to educate and inspire voters and soon-to-be voters," said Akuba Torvikey, vice president, public relations, of KOPE, Inc. "This is actually an informal launching of an initiative we recently passed, the National Young Voters Convention." She said KOPE, Inc., has been working with Cty Councilman Kenny Ruffin to increase voter turnout.

The featured speaker for the event will be Michael J. Bond, son of civil rights leader and NAACP board chairman, Julian Bond. He will speak about the history of the vote, the civil rights struggle, and the power voting has in society.

Registration for the 5K Unity Run/Walk is $2, $10 with a T-shirt. Those who want a T-shirt must pre-register by calling (770) 991-7080.

Admission to PeaceSpeak 2008 is free. For more information about PeaceSpeak 2008, call Akuba Torvikey at (404) 358-1241.