- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 27, 2015

WATERLOO, Iowa (AP) - Twelve Waterloo schools are using art to help promote peace following a recent rash of shootings and stabbings.

The idea behind the Stop the Violence project began with art teacher Will Overstreet, who wanted to do something after learning of three gunfire incidents in a 24-hour period last month, the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier (https://bit.ly/1FZe7gN ) reported.

Overstreet, who teaches at Dr. Walter Cunningham School for Excellence, emailed other art teachers in the district and many agreed to enlist their students to help with the project.

“The recent violence in the community, it touches the lives of our kids,” said Sarah Gorsuch, Lincoln Elementary School’s art teacher. “We thought that we would take a stand and do some art installations outside of our schools.”

Students in Overstreet’s after-school art club have helped create a peace sign that stands more than six feet tall. They also are working on weaving strips of plastic material through the fencing on the back of the stands at Hellman Field. The material will spell out “We Need Leaders” when it’s finished.

Other students at Cunningham also have painted many peace sign cutouts during extra time in class that will be displayed throughout the community. Students at Lincoln and Kittrell elementary schools are crafting peace signs, too, along with dove cutouts that all are made from recycled plastic.

“The idea is just to kind of start something here ground level, start a little spark,” Overstreet said. Get the kids involved in being proactive in their community - get them to be part of the solution, break the cycle. My hope is this is just the start.”

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Information from: Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier, https://www.wcfcourier.com

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