MPD helps 6th graders clean up their neighborhood

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- A Berclair neighborhood no longer has to look at a fence stained with gang graffiti thanks to police officers and a handful of Kingsbury Middle School students.

Friday, they worked hand in hand to paint over the fence right across the street from their school

"It feels like my community is getting help," said student Marissa Mills.

The fence has been covered in gang graffiti for quite some time.

"The kids just have been talking about the graffiti in their community, and how it affects them negatively," said MPD Officer Cassandra Leake.

She works with the students through Gang Resistance Education and Training, better known as G.R.E.A.T.

It's a nationwide program where officers go into the classroom and teach children about the effects of gangs and violence.

This week, schools were encouraged to do something positive in their community.

"They wanted to be the spark that ignited the fire in their community, and they want to show everybody that they can do something about it," said Leake.

The students and officers painted the fence in school colors, put their hand prints on it, and then hung a banner explaining how gangs, violence and graffiti affects them.

"I want to make my city better, and we don't want no more graffiti," said student Fernando Flores.

Officer Leake said this experience will go a long way.

"Just because you're in sixth grade, doesn't mean you can't do anything about what goes on in your community," she said.

Valspar donated the paint, and Lowe's donate the supplies.

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