COLUMBUS, Ohio — Choosing peace over violence and loving yourself are two very important themes that a local organization in Central Ohio hopes to instill in kids at a young age. 

What You Need To Know

  • The City of Columbus Department of Neighborhoods Commission on Black Girls hosted a 'Girl Talk' discussing the importance of choosing peace over violence and debunking beauty standards for women of color

  • The 'Girl Talk' was hosted at Johnson Park Middle School 

  • All of the middle schoolers signed a peace pledge, pledging to be leaders in the community and to find peaceful answers when faced with problems 

Students at Johnson Park Middle School in Columbus got a few life lessons Monday; learning how to be leaders and mentors. 

“It inspires us to do good and shows how much we are appreciated,” said Johnson Park Middle School 8th grader, Kyanna Rodriguez.

Volunteers with the city’s Commission On Black Girls discussed promoting peace over violence and asked attendees to sign a peace pledge, a vow to be a positive leader in the community and to find peaceful answers to problems.

“To share guidance and information with our students to help keep them safe. Not only today, not only through the winter break but for the rest of this year,” said Johnson Park Middle School Principal, Dr. Staci Rouse.

The volunteers also took the opportunity to discuss their beauty, both inside and out, and it shouldn’t be defined by anyone but themselves. 

“It’s very important that they hear from adult women that look like them, that maybe share experiences that will allow them to build and think beyond what has been shared through society and build those things within themselves that will help them put their all understanding of what beauty is,” said Dr. Rouse. “On the inside and within other people and not an outward appearance.” 

“Because I am a woman, a Black woman to be exact, when I was a Black girl, elementary school, middle school, high school, I don’t recall instances where Black women came in to impart knowledge, wisdom, experience and expertise to show that they actually cared outside of teachers,” said CarolineINSPIRES Bennett, a local philanthropist who presented at workshop, a message that resonated with the group. 

“Whether or not you feel like you’re beautiful, just know that you are . And really, beautiful isn’t just on the outside, it’s a feeling inside. So technically your personality is beautiful regardless,” said Rodriguez.