CHEYENNE, Wyo. — When Cheyenne residents come together and support one another, they make the city a better place, says Ma’Kenzie Johnson, a 15-year-old East High School freshman.
Hoping to promote the importance of peace and raise awareness about the negative effects that violent actions can have on Cheyenne’s youth, Johnson — alongside her close friends and family members — is spearheading the “Hand in Hand” peace walk on Saturday, May 6.
“This movement is just a voice wanting to be heard, to raise awareness about the affects associated with cruel violence, suicide and dangerous driving that is taking the lives of our youth,” Johnson said.
The event will start at noon at the Cheyenne Depot Plaza, where attendees can make posters with peaceful messages. They will then walk hand in hand to Holliday Park on 17th and Morrie Avenue, which is roughly a mile away. A moment of silence will be held in the park at 12:30 p.m. for “anyone who has lost a loved one to a situation that could have been avoided,” the “Hand in Hand” flyer states.
Any community member can take part in the event, Johnson said, and she hopes many elementary, middle and high school students will participate.
“I hope we can have just a safer community, where we can all come together and have each other’s back,” she said.
Attendees are also encouraged to wear white, yellow or tie-dye to the walk.
“White signifies purity, yellow just makes people think positive and puts a smile on people’s face and tie-dye is just for peace all around,” Johnson said.
Co-organizers include Johnson’s friends and fellow East High freshmen Tailynn Bannon and Maycee Hastings, along with Johnson’s mother Courtney Vosler and cousin Daejah Nuu, who is a student at Laramie County Community College.
Johnson was motivated to hold the walk after losing a close friend to suicide and a cousin to a violent incident.
“I felt like I needed to do it, it felt really personal,” she said.
Vosler said she is proud of her daughter for putting the event together. She hopes people can support the young girls’ efforts and respect their messages.
“I just pray people can respect that this is something good, that people are really concerned for our youth and that they can behave and come out for the right reasons,” she said.
Arranging the walk has become a memorable experience for everyone, Vosler said. She hopes the girls can use the skills they learn to create similar events in the future.
“Its been fun, very exciting and we’re always going back and forth like, ‘Let’s do this idea or that idea,'” she said. “It’s been amazing.”