CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — “Any step towards that’s positive is going to be the right step,” Demetrius Gibbs, Champaign resident, said.

One city is trying to take the right step by bringing people together. This is a different approach for the City of Champaign. They are hosting a series of block parties. The focus is on “love.”

There was everything from music and food to vaccines and information about the city. People at the event say it was a great idea.

“Its a beautiful thing, you know, cause of course we need to stop the violence and people to come together that’s the main important thing to stop the violence if we come together,” Justin Phipps, Champaign resident, said.

As gun violence rises in Central Illinois, the City of Champaign thought of a new way to hopefully bring the community together and spread the love.

“Its very important. That’s what we’re missing now. A little bit of love will go a long way and so we’re promoting and preaching and so that’s our message now,” John Ruffin, Champaign Neighborhood Coordinator, said.

Justin Phipps lives in the Garden Hills Neighborhood just a street down from a neighborhood block party that happened on Hedge Road. He says he received a letter in his mailbox and thought it was a great idea to bring his family.

“It takes a community to raise a child. When they come down, they can have fun, have a good time, and we can too. Its always a great time,” Phipps said.

This is the second stop on the Champaign Lovin’ U Campaign Tour. The city’s Neighborhood Services Department put on the event in partnership with the Champaign County Community Coalition and the Hip-Hop Express. It’s a way provide people with vaccinations, information, while also having family-friendly activities.

“This event is for the neighbors and community. We’re really trying to do something to lift themselves and lift their families, and so we want to be out here providing information to those folks and we know that’s the large majority of community,” Ruffin said.

People say bringing that community together could eventually help break the cycle of violence.

“They’re trying to bring everybody together no matter what race you are, ethnicity, you know that’s not anything. That don’t matter. Unifying as a whole,” Gibbs said.

The Lovin’ U Block Party will be going around to four more neighborhoods in August and September. Here are the dates below:

  • Thursday, August 12th 6-8 pm — Countrybrook Block Party at 2502 W. Springfield Ave, Champaign
  • Thursday, August 19th 9-11 pm — Downtown Champaign Block Party at Neil and Washington City Parking Lot, Champaign
  • Wednesday, August 25th 6-8 pm — Town Center Apartments Block Party at 2413 N. Neil St., Champaign
  • Wednesday, September 1st 6-8 pm — Bristol Place Residences Celebration and Tour Closeout at 1300 N. Market St., Champaign