All eyes were on Philly when looting erupted in pockets throughout the city after the police shooting of Walter Wallace Jr.
Including those of the youngest residents who call these city streets their home.
In Port Richmond, Portside Arts Center, 2531 E. Lehigh Ave., decided to turn the destructive behavior into a positive talking point for its youth participants.
Children, ranging in age from 4 to 13 enrolled in the nonprofit’s Portside Creative Classrooms, discussed with staff the importance of peaceful protesting.
“We told them they have the right to protest about something you feel strongly about, but it must be peaceful, that is the only way people will respect you and what you are looking to achieve,” said Kim Creighton, founding director at Portside.
The students were eager to share their knowledge.
During the last week of October, students made their own peaceful protest signs — from no littering to killing the Spotted Lanternfly — and took to the corner of Lehigh Avenue and Belgrade Street to share their messages loud and clear.
And, while the students were excited to get their messages out to the public, it was a reciprocal experience for staff.
“[The participants] actually thanked me for letting them do this and they said, ‘Miss Kim, this is really important, isn’t it?’ They really realized the importance of what they were doing and we were so proud of them,” Creighton said.
With a sturdy foundation being crafted with Creighton, the future looks bright for some of the River Wards’ youngest residents.
“Of course the kids are amazing,” Creighton said. “I do not want them to become numb and/or accepting of the things that are going on in our world.”