Violence, back to school rally Saturday

Published: Wednesday, August 1, 2012 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, July 31, 2012 at 10:40 p.m.

It's time again for the Stop the Violence/Back to School Rally, a communitywide event that rewards the first 1,200 children with free backpacks filled with school supplies.



What: The 13th annual Stop the Violence/Back to School Rally, with free backpacks, immunizations, school information and more.

When: 10 a.m.-noon Saturday.

Where: Santa Fe College gym, 3000 NW 83rd St.

Cost: Free.

Information: Call 352-505-6839.

And those attending also will receive back-to-school information from Alachua County Public Schools and learn ways to stop bullying and other forms of violence while mingling and listening to music by Gainesville artists.

Hosted by People Against Violence Enterprises in partnership with Alachua County Public Schools, the event, now in its 13th year, will be held from 10 a.m.-noon Saturday at the Santa Fe College gym at 3000 NW 83rd St. The Rev. Karl “The Rev” Anderson, founder of People Against Violence Enterprises, or PAVE, said five years ago, PAVE partnered with the Alachua County school district to combine PAVE's Stop the Violence Rally and the school district's Back to School Rally into one event.

“The collaboration epitomizes what we are all about,” Anderson said. “Our vision is to collaborate to stand as a united front. Our target audience is parents and children, and what better way to do this than through the educational system.”

This year's theme is #stopdaviol3nc3, which is based on the Twitter format and designed to raise awareness of cyberbullying and Internet safety.

“The goal of the rally is to give parents and students important tips on preventing violence in their neighborhoods, homes and schools and to help them prepare for the school year,” said Anderson, also senior co-pastor of Upper Room Ministries of Greater Gainesville.

Anderson said cyberbullying refers to bullying that is done via the Internet, cell phones or other interactive and digital technologies.

“We know that Twitter, Facebook and other social media are often used as tools of bullying and violence,” said Anderson. “We want to turn that around, and that means educating parents and students about the right and wrong ways to use social media.”

Again this year, the first 1,200 children attending the rally will receive free backpacks filled with school supplies provided by Meridian Behavioral Healthcare Inc., a primary sponsor of the annual rally.

Anderson said everyone attending the rally will automatically be entered into a drawing to win an iPad provided by the Spirit of Faith Christian Center, a church with a location in east Gainesville.

The Alachua County Health Department will offer school immunizations and provide information about Florida KidCare, a low-cost statewide health insurance program.

The Leadership Gainesville Alumni Association, or LGAA, will again provide backpacks, supplies and clothing to eligible students who have graduated from the Alachua County HeadStart program.

And Alachua County Public Schools will again provide back-to-school information, including school calendars, school supply lists and information on after-school programs, school bus routes, the free and reduced lunch program and other information.

The keynote speaker will be Gwen Rhodes, victim services program specialist in the Florida Attorney General office, who will discuss cyberbullying and how to prevent it. Greetings will be delivered by Robert E. Roundtree Jr., chief judge of the Florida Eighth Judicial Circuit, and Bill Cervone, state attorney for the 8th Judicial Circuit.

Anderson noted cyberbullying has been on the increase and the brutality of it weighs heavily on victims and can also be life-threatening.

“We want to get the word out that what you put on the Internet stays out there and lives have been destroyed,” said Anderson, adding that three students who participated in the 2012 Stop the Violence Video Contest will receive awards for submitting the best videos with a message to stop cyberbullying and online violence.

The awards will include $500 cash for first place, a $250 gift card for second place, and a $100 gift card for third place.The winning entries will be shown during the program and later posted on YouTube.

“We want parents to have the information they need to get their kids off to a smooth start, because that helps set a positive tone for the entire school year,” said Jackie Johnson, public information officer for Alachua County

Reader comments posted to this article may be published in our print edition. All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be re-published without permission. Links are encouraged.

▲ Return to Top