'Gentle walk' in Naperville plans to promote unity

Updated 12/1/2016 5:47 PM

A group of Naperville moms plans to go for a walk, Dec. 11 to solve the world's problems.

Problems of intolerance, hate and a lack of religious and cultural understanding can be solved through compassion, respect and communication, these mothers and community organizers say.


That's why the group, called Moms Building Bridges, is sponsoring a Community Unity Walk from 2 to 4 p.m. on a winter Sunday. Kathy McBane, who founded the group of about 40 diverse mothers a year ago, says the walk aims to heal divisions caused or worsened by the election of President-elect Donald Trump and to promote acceptance for all.

"The urgency of this walk has become very apparent in the aftermath of the presidential election," McBane said. "There's a lot of hurt and fear and need for healing in our community."

People of all ages, races, cultures, religions and genders are invited to join in the walk beginning at Fredenhagen Park along the Naperville Riverwalk on Washington Street between Chicago and Aurora avenues.

"What we believe is that solidarity and compassion for one another are crucial," McBane said. "Nobody should live in fear because of their skin color or religious traditions or lifestyle choices or anything of that nature."

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The event has the support of the Naperville Interfaith Leaders Association, President Lynn Pries said. Religious leaders in town want to promote compassion as the best way for people of all religious traditions to work together to solve social problems, Pries said.

Walkers plan to hold signs promoting unity, diversity and acceptance and hand out roses to others they see as they take the Riverwalk from the park to Naperville Central High School.

"We want to bring awareness to the community about diversity," said Rafath Waheed, a member of Moms Building Bridges and of the Islamic Center of Naperville. "It will be festive, but it will send a strong message to those out there that don't mean well for others, who need to learn and be educated that this is America, this is a very diverse America; people of all races live here."

In the Naperville Central cafeteria at 440 Aurora Ave., the group will gather to hear guest speakers, including members of the Alive Center's teen board of directors, share their thoughts about compassion and community. McBane said organizers are planning interactive exercises to encourage dialogue among participants of different backgrounds and help everyone involved build connections.


McBane said she expects the walk to make it to the school about 2:40 p.m. for the speeches and activities to begin.

While some have responded to the presidential election with protests, marches or confrontational gatherings, Waheed said that's not the aim of the Community Unity Walk. The event is imagined to be a "gentle walk" in peace, she said.

"If you do something for the common good, for the good of humanity," Waheed said, "it touches people's hearts."

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