Attended by scores throughout the day, the event was sponsored by the City of Anniston Parks and Recreation Department's "Good Choices" program, Anniston Housing Authority, Calhoun County Commission and the College Gateway Center, and also the Boys & Girls Club.
Frazier Burroughs, the director of the Carver Community Center, said by hosting the event officials hoped to direct youth away from violence by showing them that the community cares.
"If the kids feel like nobody cares, then they have a tendency to connect with whoever they feel is going to provide that for them, and that can lead to wrong choices," said Burroughs.
And that message is valid regardless of where the neighborhood is located, said Steven Folks, director of the Anniston Parks & Recreation Department.
"We're talking about the entire city, county, and everyone who's affected by violence, not just west Anniston," said Folks.
"You can't carve up a city into just one section. You have to look at the city as a whole. If you have violence in west Anniston then that violence is going to leak over into east Anniston and south Anniston," he said.
The event began with a march from the park to the community center.
Folks explained the march's significance.
"The pavilion we march from was the Martin Luther King pavilion, and one of the things we said was that Dr. King always talked about nonviolence, and we said that would be a fitting place to do our speaking," he said.
Upon arriving at the community center, participants were able to visit a "stop the violence" booth as well as enjoy outdoord events including basketball, soccer and swimming.
The Mattie C. Stewart Foundation hoped to reiterate the stop the violence message by bringing its Choices Bus. The bus features an authentic prison cell, which representatives of that group hoped would further deter youth from making violent choices.
"This is a problem throughout the United States of America, and certainly here in Anniston Alabama. I am an Alabamian, and we go across the country. Charity starts at home and spreads abroad so when we had the opportunity to come to Anniston, Alabama, we worked it into the calendar," said Shelley Stewart, the president and founder of the Mattie C. Stewart Foundation.
Stewart was one of a few motivational speakers of the day in the telling of his life's story.
"Education is the key," she said. "With education is going to come so many other things in life.'
Anniston mayor Gene Robinson was also in attendance at the event.
"My message today was that all over the world we have to stop the violence. That everybody is precious to someone and that all over the world we have to start respecting each other's cultures, and we have to start living as human beings and respecting life," said Robinson.
Robinson said his presence would, he hoped, let city residents know how he feels about his place in the community.
" I'm not the top citizen, I'm the last citizen," he said.
Many agreed that the problems causing violence had been highlighted, but now it was time to start seeking solutions.
Stewart shared one of his solutions.
"There's no such thing as just a group of at-risk children — all children are at risk. If we don't do something to educate these children and stop the violence, then all the adults will be at risk too."
Although the program is in its 11th year, Folks said he couldn't measure the success of his program through numbers.
'We did stats last year on out 10th anniversary because you can see some years when it's up and some years when it's down. "
Instead, he said he measures success by individuals.
"I measure it when I walk out there every year and see some of the same kids that started with us at 13 years old. We have a young lady that's getting ready to teach school this year, and she started with us at 13 years old. When I walk out there and see she's still there and others are still there, I think we've accomplished something," he said.
The woman to whom Folks referred is Kia English, a recent graduate from Jacksonville State University with a degree in elementary education. English said she appreciates that program because of her own bout with violence.
"My mother was attacked on Mulberry Street when I was in the sixth grade and it left her paralyzed. So violence not only affects the criminal, but also the victim, and the victims family," said English, who will start her teaching career this fall at Oxford Elementary.