STEUBENVILLE - Organizers of a Stand Up for Steubenville rally said they are planning a Saturday event to show support for the youth of the community.
"A lot of our youth in the community are in fear because of recent events, including the lockdown this week at the city schools. This rally is for the youth and for their parents to show we care about them and have their back," explained Dawud Abdullah, an organizer.
The group held its first rally at Jim Wood Park last week and will meet again at noon Saturday at the shelter house area.
"Jackie Sacripanti will be the emcee for the rally. She is the parent of a school student and one of the organizers," said Abdullah.
"I want to emphasize the rally is not to combat the Anonymous group or the people who have rallied against the alleged rape of a Weirton young woman last year. We are not taking sides or trying to sway any opinion about the case. But we are showing support for the youth of our community," he noted.
"Pam Petrilla of the Jefferson County Prevention and Recovery Board has organized several mental health counselors to be at the rally to offer counseling and support for anyone who is interested," said Abdullah.
"We will be there to offer counseling and help to anyone who may have experienced trauma related to the recent events in Steubenville. We will offer mental health and alcohol and drug services to anyone who may need our help," explained Petrilla.
In addition to the Jefferson County Prevention and Recovery Board, Petrilla said representatives from the Family Services Association and Jefferson Behavorial Health System will be at the rally.
Steubenville Mayor Domenick Mucci and 4th Ward Councilwoman Angela Suggs met with the mental health counselors this week.
"We asked them to meet with children and parents who may have been affected by the traumatic events last August through now. The counselors have promised to be available for the longterm. They also have a Behavioral Health System 24-hour hotline available at (740) 264-1627 for anyone who wants to talk," Suggs noted.
"I have realized there are people in the community reaching out for help or for someone to listen to them. I felt it was important for the proper providers to be available to provide counseling and help to our community. Several mental health counselors will be at the rally to offer their resources to any and all residents of the community. Anyone who wants to talk to a counselor is welcome and encouraged to attend the rally," said Mucci.
"This outreach is necessary. I am also working with our faith-based community to ask them to coordinate a weekend of sermons and prayers for our community," Mucci added.
"We are also inviting all area pastors and ministers to join us at the noon rally. We also plan to have several children talk about what the case and all of the national attention means to them," Abdullah remarked.
Steubenville School District Superintendent Mike McVey said the Steubenville High School pep band will participate at the rally.
"A lot of our parents have been shaken this week by the Facebook threat and subsequent lockdown at the schools. We hope a school official is at the rally to talk about measures to ensure the kids are safe," according to Abdullah.
(Gossett can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)