Recent school shootings specifically in Maryland and Florida have raised concern for Baltimore's young people. Thursday, Baltimore City students took a stand against violence with non-violence and hope.
Students from across the city tapped into their creative sides for the Art Against Violence Competition. This art show with a purpose, hopes to not only raise awareness about the violence facing today's youth, but keep them from it.
"Art was a huge vehicle in leading me away from violence and I feel like they should believe in the gift even if nobody else does," said artist, Tyler Ballon.
Ballon, a MICA student, showcased his own piece, in the hopes of inspiring young people to stand up against violence and choose the right path.
"I grew up in a very violent area and a lot of my friends like who I grew up with are now dead or in jail."
And it's that cycle of violence and discouragement Ballon hopes to keep students away from.
Students like Day'sean Matthews, one of the competition winners. He painted an image of a white and black man living together in peace, not violence.
"I just wanted to do this piece to explain how we're all in unity and we all need to come together and help one another out," said Matthews.
Dr. Carnell Cooper runs The University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center Violence Prevention Program. He says art is a tool. Many of the students who participated in the competition live and go to school in violent areas.
"It's a national issue. It's allowing our kids an outlet to express what they're thinking."
"They can show people what they feel without saying words and express themselves," said competition winner, Ciaya Spence.
Cooper said kids everywhere have felt the sting and fear of recent violence here in Maryland and across the nation, most recently in Parkland, Florida.
"There's a lot of separation between us and it's hard to understand what everybody goes through because not everyone is the same as you," Matthews said.
More than 100 works were submitted to the competition. The event was purposely held during National Youth Violence Prevention Week. Medical experts say violence is the leading cause of death for young adults in Baltimore.