Groups coming together to have Community Day of Peace in city

| Monday, July 5, 2010

Plans continue to evolve for a "Community Day of Peace" later this month in Moran Field along Market Street in McKeesport.

Organizers of the July 17 event at Moran Field have plans for an Xbox tournament involving John Madden's NFL video game program, a first-ever tournament for a new youth basketball league sponsored by local pro basketball standout Swin Cash and a performance from a Lycoming County troupe.

"Community Alliance for Progressive Positive Action is an after-school program that focuses on kids from kindergarten through 12th grade, with tutoring, drama, dance and computers," Day of Peace organizer Al Washington said.

"It actually started because they had a problem with gangs in Williamsport," said city Councilwoman V. Fawn Walker, another Day of Peace organizer. "We wanted to show the kids in the community something different."

Its director is Lonnie Gambel.

The CAPPA troupe of as many as 80 youngsters is scheduled to perform between 2:30 and 3 p.m. The entire Day of Peace event is slated between 11 a.m. and 8 p.m. on the field and adjacent property between Harrison Village and Isbir Manor.

Helping out with the Madden Xbox tournament are Troy Blackwell and McKeesport Area High School senior Sam Gooden. The event is open to competitors of all ages.

"Mr. Washington asked for my help," said Blackwell, formerly on the staff at LaRosa Boys & Girls Club and now a behavioral specialist at McKeesport Area School District's East End Academy.

Lending the equipment for the tournament is McKeesport native Kevin Wilson, who runs a company called Signs, Designs, Displays in Pittsburgh.

"I do special events all over the country," Wilson said.

Wilson was on hand Friday at Isbir Manor with employee Jim Carey to set up a TV set and a display with helmets from all 32 NFL teams.

Blackwell's cousin, Isbir Manor tenant council president Joanne Blackwell, is working with Cash's uncle Dennis Cash to coordinate the basketball tournament, involving teams in a new Youth Places/Swin Cash Basketball League.

"We're probably going to have 13 teams," Dennis Cash said. "There will be seven 10-and-under and six 14-and-under teams."

The Day of Peace is a collaborative effort spearheaded by the McKeesport African American Political Coalition, in partnership with Rainbow Temple Assembly of God's Operation Save Our Youth.

"I'm a member of (Rainbow Temple) and I work with OSOY, which is our youth group," Walker said. "I am on its staff."

To donate to or volunteer for the Day of Peace, enroll in the Madden Xbox tournament, call Walker at 877-385-9975.

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