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Philly teens: With the city in crisis, will you help us change it? - FlagSpin

Philly teens: With the city in crisis, will you help us change it?

On the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, the city was about to experience a record 500th homicide, a tragic marker of how broken Philadelphia has become. As students at Parkway Center City Middle College, we have felt the effects of our troubled city, especially when it comes to violence and the relationships that people like us have with police. There are many students in our school who have had siblings, cousins, parents, or friends who have been killed or wounded by guns, and even more who have had negative experiences with police officers.

But like Parkway students before us, we want to help enact change and make Philadelphia a better place for everyone, which is why we restarted our annual fund-raising and community event this year — held on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving — and we hope by next year, it will spread to more high schools around the city.

In 2019, students at our school held a “Parkway Plays for Peace!” event in which young people played basketball against police officers. The goal was to build relationships between our community and the force and to raise money for Moms Bonded by Grief, an organization of grieving mothers dedicated to providing guidance and support to families who have lost loved ones to gun violence. Highlights of the 2019 tournament included sophomore Joshua Howard’s half-court shot to beat the seniors in the final game of the students-only bracket.

» READ MORE: In a play for peace, Parkway student activists go up against police — in basketball | Helen Ubiñas

In addition to being a really fun event, the day served as a reminder that even in this time, when the police are — sometimes justifiably — not always painted in the best light, there is still hope for positive relationships with young people like us. We also raised a few thousand dollars for a worthwhile cause.

After pausing in 2020 due to the pandemic, we relaunched the event this year. On Tuesday, Nov. 23, students from our school participated in a peaceful flag football tournament with police officers from the 17th District. The goal of this event, like the one before it, was to build goodwill between students like us and police officers, and to again raise funds for Moms Bonded by Grief. We raised $4,200.

The time we shared together was a wonderful showcase of “brotherly love,” and we hope that other high schools will follow our lead next year.

As Parkway seniors, we know that it’s up to future classes to ensure this important tradition does not die out. In fact, we want the tradition to expand to the whole city. We want schools all across the city to participate in “The Tuesday Before,” with events that build bonds between students in high school and police officers from every district and a fund-raiser for a worthwhile cause.

» READ MORE: Philly teens to Florida teens: Would you have stood in solidarity with us? | Helen Ubiñas

We’ve learned through this experience that individuals can make a difference and would be happy to give advice to any schools who want to create their own version of this event next year. Game on!

Amirah Parker, Daisha Walker-Briggs, Zykia Wright, Bryant Carter, and Kahleel Odom are seniors at Parkway Center City Middle College and helped organize this event.

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Travis Burnett

Travis Burnett

A pioneer in the flag football community, Travis helped co-found the Flag Football World Championship Tour, FlagSpin and USA Flag. Featuring 15+ years of content creation for the sport of flag football, creating and managing the largest flag football tournaments on the planet, coaching experience at the youth and adult level as well as an active player with National and World Championship level experience.

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