OAKLAND -- Karla Borrego is bored with sitting inside watching television and playing video games with her five siblings. She wants to be outside playing basketball and soccer and running around with other youngsters in her East Oakland neighborhood.
But her parents usually say no to that.
"Most of the time they won't let me go outside because it's too dangerous," said the 11-year-old, a fifth-grader at Esperanza Elementary School at 105th and E. Street.
The girl was one of about 40 fourth- and fifth-graders who took to the streets after school Tuesday for their very own "Ceasefire" march calling for an end to violence and killings, a reference to the Oakland anti-violence program Operation Ceasefire.
The children, who marched about one mile Tuesday, want to do their part -- however small -- to curb some of the violence that impacts them. They chanted "take back the streets, let the kids play" as they walked the neighborhoods surrounding the school.
In the past year, teachers said there have been multiple lockdowns at the school while police searched for suspects or were alerted to gunfire. One student lost two brothers to violence; about a year ago, bullets were shot through a classroom window while school was closed.
"They talk about it like it's normal, which is the saddest thing,'' said fifth-grade teacher Becky Syrowski.¿ "They come with their stories: things we never would imagine seeing or hearing."
Even Karla was impacted by violence last year when her 15-year-old sister's boyfriend was killed on 105th Avenue, the girl said. "There's too many people being killed and it destroys families," she said after the march.
The march was part of Upward Roots, an after-school program at the school that uses education, leadership, and service learning to promote the idea that every young person can be a "positive change maker within their community," said nonprofit co-founder Lindsey Jones.
The program, which was founded in 2010 and is run on a $150,0000 annual operating budget, is active in five elementary schools, including Esperanza. Students have done other services projects, such as planting a community garden, visiting seniors and collecting clothes and toiletries for homeless people.
Follow Kristin J. Bender at Twitter.com/kjbender.