In certain spots in Mattapan, Dorchester, and Roxbury, the usual billboard advertisements for restaurants and television shows have been replaced in favor of a more meaningful message: peace.
The University of Massachusetts Boston, in partnership with the City of Boston, the Boston Police Department, and Clear Channel, recently launched a new youth-driven billboard campaign, titled, “Peace: What’s it to you?”
UMass Boston wanted to give the city’s youth a chance to speak out against street crime and gang violence in their communities, promoting peace through heartfelt words and drawings.
More than 20 teenagers in the Boston Police Department’s Youth & Police in Partnership and District B-2 Summer Explorers programs created posters, which UMass Boston’s community relations and graphic design teams combined into two billboard designs. Clear Channel donated eight billboards across the city to showcase the work.
“I hope people see this and are impacted,” said David Hale, 15, who drew two of the posters featured on the billboards. “I hope we can change opinions.”
“I feel inspired. It makes me feel like there’s still hope in the world,” said Tyler Henry, 15.
The billboard campaign features a collage of powerful expressions, everything from a broken heart patched with a Band-Aid and doves to peace signs and anti-violence slogans.
On October 5, UMass Boston held a billboard unveiling event at the corner of Washington and Harvard streets in Dorchester. It was a chance for Chancellor J. Keith Motley and Police Commissioner Ed Davis to meet the teen artists behind the billboards.
“These young people put their talent to work for peace,” said UMass Boston Chancellor J. Keith Motley. “This is something for all of us to be proud of— our youth, neighbors, community members, seniors. We are partners in the revitalization of this community, and we’re grateful for that.”
Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis said that engaging Boston’s young people in the fight for peace was important for the city’s future.
“What makes this campaign special is it is all about young people. This campaign has been led by youth from the start,” Davis said.
Billboards are located in the following locations: Washington and Bowdoin streets, Columbia Road and Stoughton Street, Blue Hill Avenue and Harvard Street, and Dorchester Avenue in Dorchester; Tremont Street, and Washington and Bragdon streets in Roxbury; and Blue Hill Avenue, and River Street in Mattapan.