With dew still on the grass and the sun not yet intense 45 people joined hands Wednesday to make a human peace sign on the lawn of the St. Croix campus of the University of the Virgin Islands.
Carolyn Keys, Alternatives to Violence Project program manger and organizer of the event, said she was very pleased with the number of participants this year. She said last September they had 25 people taking part.
“It’s catching on,” Keys said. “We can have peace in our time. We just have to work together.”
“I’m feeling very happy and peaceful right now,” Keys said, adding that she would like to see more men involved with the peace sign.
Bethanne Cousins, a baby boomer, said “Us old-timers are still trying to give peace a chance.”
There did appear to be a number of gray-haired folks promoting peace. Cousins said it would have been nice to see more young people. There was only a handful of youngsters taking part.
Organizers asked participants to be there at 7:30 a.m. There were representatives from nonprofits, sororities, civic and religious groups in the peace sign. The Rev. Rod Koopmans was there from My Brother’s Table and Laura Ballard was there for the Animal Welfare Center. There was also a representative from Liberty Place and the Women’s Coalition Project Link.
Individuals spoke about upcoming peace-related projects and the group sang a couple hymns.
“It’s all about God’s word,” Ilma Rodgers-Francis said. “He said, ‘Let here be peace on earth.’”
Lisa John said she saw the event on Facebook and decided to join hands with others to show we are all the same and we need to get along peacefully.
“We’re from different cultures but we shouldn’t act like we’re divided,” John said. “We all need to work for peace together.”
Linda Garvin joined hands in the peace sign, she said, because she believes in everyone coming together as a community to build peace.
The AVP program is designed to improve self-esteem by strengthening communication and anger management skills, transforming conflict and clarifying values.
“Our goal is to help people gain the skills to avoid conflicts nonviolently and to realize there are choices for nonviolence,” said Keys, who is also involved with the Community Peace Center in Frederiksted.