Xavier Davis smiled at the children and parents assembled in the gymnasium of the Olivet Boys and Girls Club’s Clinton Street clubhouse and began speaking.

“I want to thank you guys for being here and being committed to making the change in the community,” Davis said. “I’m here tonight during this peace rally looking for feedback from the kids, from you guys, on how we can work together to limit the violence or maybe even come up with a way to prevent it in the community.”

Davis served as emcee Thursday for Olivet’s first Peace Rally. The 2022 honor graduate of Reading High School and former basketball team standout works as a coach and mentor for the club.

Organized in response to recent incidents of gun violence locally and throughout the country, the event was aimed at raising awareness of the impact of gang and gun violence and inspiring kids to take action to promote peace.

It offered a chance for families to come together to show support for each other and for those affected by violence.

Children, ages 6 to 18, from the club’s six brick-and-mortar and two satellite locations gathered in the gym for the upbeat, interactive rally. The event ended outside the club with a solemn candle-lighting vigil and a moment of silence in memory of area victims.

“This vigil is an opportunity for us to come together as a community to remember those who have lost their lives to violence, and to reaffirm our commitment to creating a safer world for our children,” said Christopher Winters, Olivet president and CEO. “We want our kids to know they have the power to make a difference, and they can be a force for change in their communities.”

The community needs to come together to support its youth and their future, he said.

“I’m gonna tell you something,” Winters said. “It’s not just about the children in Reading. It’s about the children of Berks County and Reading. It’s about what makes us great: It is the futures that are sitting in these chairs here.”

Olivet Club kids decorated the Clinton Street gym in advance with 10 handmade posters. Each had an affirmative message, such as “Family,” “Love,” “Peace,” Unity,” “Kids are the future” and “Save our city.”

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