YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – As the world is seeing many protests and violence, a local organization is using sidewalk chalk to send a very different message.

Directors with Youngstown’s Jewish Community Center are hoping sidewalk chalk in the right hands may convey messages of hope and peace when others are calling for war and protest.
The center held its third “chalk over hate” event Friday encouraging children and adults to put their thoughts into images and words.

“This is a wonderful way because they can use words. If they weren’t able to use words, they can use pictures,” said Barbara Wilson, director of cultural arts at the Jewish Community Center. “They can just doodle anything that helps them express themselves.”

The idea came out of an event in Washington, D.C. last year aimed at countering anti-semitic vandalism and graffiti by expressing more peaceful messages.

“So they had put out one day where they were hoping people would come together and chalk messages of peace, love and hope,” said Wilson.

Some drew flowers while others made symbols of their faith.

J.J.C art teacher Sara Lee drew an eye shedding a tear. She said events like this can have a healing effect and wanted the finished project could convey a sense of hope at a time when many are in need of it

“I wanted to draw something that shows expression of feelings,” said Lee. “Art brings people together and it gives us something even if we’re not the ones making it. It gives us something to look at and take in.

The event was originally meant as a tie-in to the local observance of Nonviolence Week in Youngstown, but with current events around the world right now, organizers say the event is even more timely.

“We just wanna have a safe space where people can come and express themselves,” said Wilson. “A lot of people are hurting right now.”

The Jewish Community Center will also be illuminated in blue and white on Sunday at 6:30 p.m.