BALTIMORE — This past weekend was a ceasefire weekend, its where community groups ask for people to refrain from the violent acts of killing for the weekend.
Now school leaders from the first ceasefire school in Baltimore are speaking out about what they believe needs to change in order to stop the murders in the city.
Traci J. Mathena is the school principal at Creative City Public Charter School. Mathena said reducing crime in neighborhoods starts with the community, you have to be the change you wish to see. It’s why they wrote positive words of affirmation on a stairwell inside the school to let students know change starts right where you stand.
“We want to see Baltimore be murder free and we actually believe that,” Mathena said.
In addition to teaching students their curriculum at the school, kids are also learning to live a life free of violence.
“That’s the way we are teaching our children through their kindness, through our curriculum, we are teaching them the strategies to be non-violent and it’s embedded in everything we do,” Mathena said.
Mathena believes in order to stop violent crime it starts with planting a positive seed for what will harvest in the future, like in the lives of children. And, she believes it will take help from each community in the entire city to do it.
“We are a world of people, we are a community of people, even though it may not have happened to you, you are part of what can change things,” Mathena said.
So far this year there have been 39 homicides in the city, this past weekend during the first ceasefire weekend of the year there were two killings.
Police said on Saturday, 21-year-old Ronald Boone was shot to death near 3300 Kentucky avenue, and 42-year-old Gregory Nelson was also killed near 3200 Bel Air Road.
Mathena believes violent acts like these stems from a deeper-rooted issue.
“So the crime that’s happening right now is not because people just wake up in the morning and go I think I’m going to be a criminal, there are things that have happened that have impacted a person that makes that occur. That is something that we are working to make sure doesn’t happen,” Mathena said.
And since violent crime seems to be considered normal in Baltimore City, Mathena said they partnered with ceasefire to reclaim the spaces where people lost their lives to violence by filling it will positivity, prayer and burning sage, even the violence that’s happened in their own backyard.
“We reclaimed a space where a person on January 10 his life was taken by violence he was shot. And the souls of those folks that were lost over the weekend we pray for them too we pour love and light into their souls too,” Mathena said.
It's why her school leaders made the letters on the stairway as part of the school pledge, to help students remember their commitment of non-violence to the community each time they walk them.
“We are a community, we connect with each other, our environment, our neighborhood, and our world. We care, we question, we collaborate, we create. Our mission and our vision for park heights is to be a leader in trying to make sure that our children, our families, everyone can look at the world as a place where non-violence can be the regular,” Mathena said.