This coming January, a different sort of march takes place in Chicago that not only honors the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., but supports efforts to end gun violence in the city.
The Polar Peace March takes place Jan. 18, 2018, from 4 to 6 p.m. Founded four years ago by UCAN — a United Church of Christ youth and family services organization — and St. Pauls United Church of Christ, the event raises money for UCAN’s violence intervention and prevention initiatives.
Each year, hundreds of diverse UCAN supporters, members of St. Pauls, and advocates citywide come together to remember the legacy of King while marching in solidarity with those who have experienced violence and trauma, and people from around Chicago who support the cause.
Last year, the Polar Peace March drew more than 300 children, teens and adults, who made their way through the 1.5-mile route chanting, “Stop the violence. Share the love,” said Zack Schrantz, UCAN’s president and CEO. The marchers were greeted by shoppers and residents of Chicago’s North Side, who applauded and snapped photos, Schrantz said, leaving marchers filled with hope.
The family-friendly event begins with a brief program honoring King, along with inspiring words from a UCAN youth and from St. Pauls senior minister, the Rev. Matt Fitzgerald. After the march, participants return to the church for soup, entertainment, networking, and a raffle.
The Polar Peace March benefits UCAN’s violence prevention and intervention programs in North Lawndale on Chicago’s west side, and the Peace Hub, a program that fosters collaboration among social service providers. UCAN is the lead agency in the Peace Hub, which uses a sophisticated data tracking system to ensure that at-risk youth receive the support the need to thrive.
UCAN is a CHHSM-member ministry that strives to build strong youth and families through compassionate healing, education and empowerment. Founded 145 years ago as a Civil War orphanage, it is one of Chicago’s oldest, yet most innovative, social service agencies. UCAN serves more than 11,600 at-risk children, youth and families across Illinois through more than 30 programs that create a healing process for youth who have experienced trauma and provide them with a continuum of care.