DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – Community members came together Sunday to discuss issues like gun violence and mental health as well as ways to help bring peace to Dayton following the Oregon District shooting.
The discussions were part of the first Dayton Peace Festival, which is being held at the Dayton International Peace Museum.
The panel discussions Sunday focused on gun violence, mental health and racism. Each panel featured national experts, local activists and community members who have been impacted by the topics discussed, according to festival organizers.
Michael Alig, whose brother survived the Oregon District shooting, was in the audience Sunday during the discussion on mental health.
“He wasn’t hurt physically, but I think we’re overlooking, for some of the people, the emotional pain that this has caused,” Alig said.
Alig told 2 NEWS it has been a difficult few weeks for his brother and his family as they continue to cope with the events of August 4.
“At first it was a really rough, really rough time,” he said. “But I think he’s starting to cope better.”
Alig said he believes talking about those feelings and struggles makes a positive impact.
“We wanted to bring together all different types of people to show solidarity and to be together in community,” said Chris Borland, director of the Dayton Peace Festival.
Borland, an Alter High School alum and former NFL linebacker, told 2 NEWS he teamed up with other professional and college athletes to start the Dayton Peace Festival at the Dayton International Peace Museum.
Borland said he believes the work done between each year’s festival is just as important, adding that community members can be involved.
“I think just very simply sitting down with people that are different from you, making time for civil dialogue with people that disagree with you,” he said.
“A quick compliment to someone and just checking in on how someone’s doing out of the blue, I think that can really mean a difference,” Alig said.
The Peace Festival is also running a student contest for the best poem on peace and best plan for peace, Borland said.
The Peace Festival wraps up Monday and runs from noon to 4 p.m., Borland said.