Community members of all ages rallied together Thursday evening Bridge Square to celebrate International Day of Peace and to show their support for a peaceful future across the globe.

Students led the rally as speakers and performers, communicating the significance of the international holiday and why the next generation needs to step up to shape their future,

Sunny Leonard, sixth-grader and rally organizer, made the closing speech before the march to Carleton College's Weitz Center of Creativity. She said youth are the future and it's they who needs to decide how that future will look. 

"This is not a protest, rather a rally for young people to unite together and work toward a better, more peaceful future," Sunny said. 

Several older students, in high school or college, attended the event in support of Sunny and kids like her who want to create a better future.

Helen Foresythe, a young community member, said she attended because she believes in the cause and in Sunny.

"I'm here to support Sunny's leadership," Foresythe said. "And I'm young person. When I see young people like me, or younger, get excited about doing something in the community, I want to support that 100 percent."

High School senior Annika Hoff said she attended the event not only to support Sunny, but to support her twin sister, Siri Hoff, who worked with Sunny to organize the rally and moderate the speeches. 

"My twin sister is organizing the event with Sunny and she highly encouraged me to come," Hoff said. "But I really believe in the cause and it's a great opportunity to show my support."

Judith Stoutland, Northfield resident, helps organize the annual International Day of Peace event locally since it was created by the United Nations in 2002, and she said that even though everyone was encouraged to come, said it was great to see young people take charge of their future and hold events of their own.

"This is a very very important issue that often doesn't get highlighted enough, but I appreciate that there are young people out there who are taking charge of these rallies and working toward an equal, peaceful future." 

About 40 people marched together for peace and equality to Carleton College where they joined the larger celebration for International Day of Peace that included speeches, musical performances and activities. 

Reach Reporter Kelsey O'Hara at 507-645-1117 of follow her on Twitter @APGKelsey.

Reach Editorial Assistant Kelsey at 507-645-1117. Follow her on Twitter @APGKelsey.

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