ERIE, Pa. — With food, music and a message for the community, Mercyhurst University social work seniors called for unity and mercy during their Wellness Day for the Community event at Perry Square.
The awareness campaign, a Movement to Empower, Restore and Cultivate Youth (M.E.R.C.Y), promotes wellness and addresses youth violence.
“No matter where you’re from, who you are, what race, creed, whatever you believe in–that the only way we can make it is unity,” said DeAndra Ward, a Mercyhurst University senior and social work major.
Classmate Emily Shanahan, also a social work senior, said, “When we were all sitting down and talking, we were thinking there is so much negativity out there; and obviously, it’s not something that people like talking about.”
About 10 social work majors helped to organize the Sunday rally for their senior project.
Shanahan said improving mental and emotional health can reduce violence, but the conversation must begin.
“We were trying to think of a way where we could get people comfortable, get people having fun, but still give them that information about services that they need,” she said.
Some of that information was shared through live entertainment, including dancers and music artists.
“I’m out here using my music as a tool to get to the people. This is my ministry,” said Hip-Hop artist Shawn X.
X, who performs under the stage name No’Slavename, said “stopping all this madness” should concern everyone.
“A lot of it is family related and all that stuff, but at the same time we’re all the same people,” he added.
The group students raised about $250 for the Crime Victim Center of Erie County, and called the event a success.
“They enjoyed themselves. They had some good food. We had a lot of really awesome performers that came to help us out,” said Shanahan. “So, I think overall, it was a good event.”