Community

Gun control group hosting community engagement event Saturday

Becca Turnis/Washington Surveyor

Mansfield Avenue, a band whose members are Cedar Rapids Washington High School students or alumni, will be among the local bands playing at March for Our Lives’ community engagement event from 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday at NewBo City Market.
Becca Turnis/Washington Surveyor Mansfield Avenue, a band whose members are Cedar Rapids Washington High School students or alumni, will be among the local bands playing at March for Our Lives’ community engagement event from 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday at NewBo City Market.
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CEDAR RAPIDS — To increase participation in the political process and young voter turnout, high school students from Cedar Rapids and around the state are hosting a community engagement event Oct. 13 at NewBo City Market.

“We really want to get young people excited about participating in the political system and volunteering for different candidates,” said Washington High School senior Olivia Kennedy, a co-founder of March for Our Lives Iowa, a student-led 501(c) 3 nonprofit advocating stricter gun control laws.

The event from 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday on the NewBo City Market lawn will be focused on making young people aware of the Nov. 6 election and encouraging them to get involved in the political process.

“We really want to get a lot of people to vote at satellite location,” Kennedy said about the Linn County Auditor’s Office satellite voting from noon to 6 p.m. at the market, 1100 Third St. SE.

She thinks young people are more excited about the coming election than in previous years because of issues such as gun violence, and the political activism around other issues.

“But it’s still kind of a problem because young people don’t know really how to get involved,” she said. “They don’t know which candidate their beliefs align with, so we’re going to have information about candidate.”

Various campaigns will be represented at the event, “but we’re non-partisan so we won’t tell people who to vote for,” Kennedy added. Also, because of the satellite voting, there will be no electioneering.

“We just want to get them excited and increase the turnout” because only about 55 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds voted in 2016, she said. “So we’re focusing on that demographic to raise voter participation.”

Kennedy, 17, who plans to major in political science, got her first taste of politics while was getting involved with President Barack Obama’s 2012 presidential campaign with her parents.

“After that, I started going to caucuses, I worked on the 2016 campaign and interned for Fred Hubbell during the primary,” Kennedy said. “Working on campaigns is a lot fun and it would be cool to start off a career like that.”

Kennedy and other members of March for Our Lives Iowa decided to organize the event after hearing students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Miami, where 17 people died from gunshot wounds when a shooter opened fire Feb. 14, speak at a Cedar Rapids town hall meeting over the summer.

There will be music by local bands for Cedar Rapids metro high schools, including Mansfield Avenue, a group of Washington High School students and alumni.

NewBo area food vendors will be selling refreshments, Raygun will have merchandise available and sponsors, nonprofits and organizations that support March for Our Lives will be showcased. Booth sponsorships are available for $50.

In case of rain, the event will be moved to CSPS, 1103 Third St. SE.

Also, at 2 p.m. Friday, the Washington Amnesty International club will partner with March for Our Lives Iowa for Amnesty’s “End Gun Violence” campaign. Michael Moore’s documentary, “Bowling for Columbine,” will be shown at a student-only event at Washington.

For more information or to sponsor a booth, visit marchforourlivesia.org or contact olivia@marchforourlives.org.

l Comments: (319) 398-8375; james.lynch@thegazette.com

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