St. Louis high schoolers challenge baseball fans to “plant positivity”

    By: Camille Phillips, St. Louis Public Radio

    A student organization launched after the unrest in Ferguson spent their Saturday encouraging baseball fans to be a positive force in St. Louis.

    Outside Busch Stadium before the Cardinals game students with Gateway2Change started conversations with baseball fans by handing out bracelets made of seeds.

    Parkway North sophomore Israel Lewis said the idea was to start positive dialogue with people from different races and backgrounds.

    “It’s like really liberating. Because like most of the time you talk about it with your friends and you really don’t hear any other viewpoints than what your own is. So hearing other people’s viewpoints and how other people see things is really nice,” said Lewis. “It gets uncomfortable sometimes but you take the positives with the negatives and you usually grow.”

    The seeds made of bracelets served as conversational icebreakers for Lewis and the other Gateway2Change students, who challenged the people they met to “plant positivity” by being nice to someone else.

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    Francis Howell Junior Lauren Jacquin and Parkway North sophomore Israel Lewis talk as they look for someone else they can meet and give a bracelet at Ballpark Village before the Cardinals game on May 7, 2016. CREDIT CAMILLE PHILLIPS | ST. LOUIS PUBLIC RADIO

    “We’re trying to get all the people from St. Louis. Really get out and reach everyone in the community and really bring them all together,” said Lauren Jacquin, a junior at Francis Howell High School in St. Charles County.

    The seed bracelets seemed to work best connecting with families with kids. Carla Gronsborg and her family all got bracelets from Lewis, including Carla’s son Henry.

    “We’re definitely going to pass it on and post it (on social media),” said Gronsborg. “I think it’s awesome. I think there needs to be more positivity in this world instead of all the negativity.”

    For the past two years Gateway2Change has hosted Student Summits on Race, bringing together high schoolers from 33 St. Louis schools.

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    Gateway2Change student chair Jaylen Bledsoe is graduating from Hazelwood West in two weeks. CREDIT CAMILLE PHILLIPS | ST. LOUIS PUBLIC RADIO

    “It’s having conversations around race and racial dialogue. But then the next step to that is just being kind to people know matter what they are. No matter what background, race, no matter what ethnicity, age. Just being nice to everyone around you,” said Gateway2Change student chair Jaylen Bledsoe, a senior at Hazelwood West.

    For Jacquin, the summit was an eye-opener.

    “I mean being from Francis Howell High School we don’t really have a lot of diversity and it kind of really opens us to like see what’s actually going on in St. Louis and help make a difference,” said Jacquin.

    Next year will be the third year Gateway2Change hosts Student Summits on Race, bringing together high schoolers from all across the region.

    The students also plan to continue their “Plant Positivity” campaign at Monday’s Blues’ game and throughout the year.

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