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Peace Walk brings out more than 100 to march through Wellington Heights neighborhood, promote peace

Updated: May. 23, 2021 at 10:58 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - The streets of the Wellington Heights neighborhood in southeast Cedar Rapids were filled with the sounds of a drumline and voices united for peace on Sunday afternoon.

The Wellington Heights Neighborhood Engagement Program held its first Peace Walk this weekend and plans to organize other walks each month through October.

Chants of, “We want peace! Peace in our streets!” grabbed the attention of longtime Wellington Heights resident Angie Schultz while she sat on her front porch, as more than 100 people walked past her home.

“I see these guys coming around the corner, and I’m like, ‘Wow, that’s so cool! We need peace,’” said Schultz, who has lived in the neighborhood for nearly 30 years.

She said what she loves about Wellington Heights is its friendliness, diversity, and how well she knows her neighbors, many of whom took part in the Peace Walk.

“Everybody looks after one another on my block, and I love it,” Schultz said. “I’ll never move.”

That sense of community, with neighbors looking after each other to promote peace, is what the walk’s organizers hope to spread.

“Wellington Heights can get a bad rap, and with the Wellington Heights Neighborhood Engagement Program, we really want to magnify the peace that’s already going on and strive and link arms to gain an even better peace,” said Keeyon Carter, the lead pastor at Wellington Heights Community Church.

The walk started and ended outside McKinley STEAM Academy, where speakers told those gathered about the need for peace in the community and how it requires everyone’s work and participation for change.

“It takes those voices within the neighborhood to know they are integral, but also, it’s a multisector response. It takes churches, organizations, nonprofits, all to link up,” Carter said.

The neighborhood’s young members played an important role in Sunday’s walk. Two children led the march, carrying a banner ahead of the rest of the group and drumline, and more kids decorated posters with peaceful messages, participating in a contest for whose was the best.

“It takes those youth to really set the foundation and take ownership that this is their neighborhood,” Carter said.

That was one of the aspects Schultz appreciated most about the Peace Walk.

“I like to see the younger generation pick it up and continue to want peace and good for this neighborhood,” she said.

The Wellington Heights Neighborhood Engagement Program, which led the walk, is funded through the Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation through its SET — Safe, Equitable, and Thriving — Communities Fund, which works to improve community safety by bettering conditions for youth and neighborhoods.

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