More than 1,000 march against knife crime to show that young people can turn lives around
PUBLISHED: 13:12 29 July 2019 | UPDATED: 13:21 29 July 2019
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A vocal crowd turned heads and stopped traffic as they spread the message that there's "light at the end of the tunnel" for those caught up in knife crime.
An estimated 1,200 people, most of whom were younger than 25, took to the streets from Canning Town to Stratford Park on Saturday, July 27 for the Life is Worth Living march against knife crime, organised by Victory Youth Group (VYG).
They were marching not only to raise awareness of the issues surrounding violent crime, but also to demonstrate that young people can break free from it and turn their lives around - as many of those participating had.
One of them, 24-year-old Erivaldo Felix, said: "It represents that young people from different backgrounds and hard backgrounds can come together to do something positive and bring awareness to gun and knife crime, which is what I was involved in growing up as well.
"It's showing that not all young people are negative (influences), there are some positives and there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
"It can be changed, people can overcome this gun and knife crime that has now become an epidemic in today's society."
Mr Felix said he sold drugs and carried knives when he was younger, but reached a turning point when he began to focus on sports and was introduced to VYG by a family member.
"People from the VYG are good mentors - it's good to look up to someone who is also young and doing something positive because it helped me believed that I can change, I can also be a positive person," he said.
"You can't be surrounded by negative people because you're going to get involved in negative activities, so I changed my circle of friends and got involved in something really positive."
It was the third annual Life is Worth living March, which has been held in a different part of London each year, focusing on areas where knife crime has impacted many lives.
UK VYG co-ordinator Ade Titilawo said: "We know very well that it's a problem, but we're actually marching to show the community there is a solution.
"Young people can change. Proof of this is young people we have amongst us who have changed their own lives, who were involved in gangs and very terrible lives, their upbringing was very bad, but through the activities we do and the community work we offer, they've been able to change their live for the better.
"Some are even mentors now, helping us to help others come out of this life."