(NEW YORK) -- Students from several elementary schools gathered at Thomas Jefferson Park in East Harlem this morning, unveiling benches they painted to advocate for social justice issues. Most notably, they spoke about gun control.
The students at Isaac Newton Middle School for Math and Science painted a bench featuring a handgun with a twisted barrel and two daisies growing out of the muzzle to signify a future without mass shootings and violence.
12-year-old Nicholas Anderson felt strongly about the issue.
“Kids deserve to be in the world, and they need to get an education, and they need to live a life,” he said.
This event was part of a larger city-wide initiative to get students involved in activism through art by CEI Benchmarks. Its summer exhibition served approximately 1,250 children from the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Queens.
Initially, these benches were displayed in Washington Square Park last month, two days after the devastating shooting at Robb Elementary School, in Uvalde, Texas. Some students were already working on benches to raise awareness about gun violence, but now the issue has new relevance in their young lives.
“Many little kids are left out because they get killed each day, and they don't have a lot of security people to protect them,” said 11-year-old David Sanchez.
The benches have been moved to Thomas Jefferson Park, Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Prospect Park, and Reverend T. Wendell Foster Park and will remain there until Sept. 15.