Young Edmontonians gathered Sunday to bring awareness to the issue of bullying.

It was part of the second annual Tweens Against Bullying Festival held in Callingwood Park Sunday afternoon.

“We’re using this festival to empower kids to feel free to speak up,” said young organizer Lakota Gibbons.

“It’s a topic that most kids don’t like talking about so we figured it would be good to set up something where kids can come and feel free to talk. It’s hard for them to speak up because they think the bully is going to hurt them even more for speaking up.”

Gibbons and her peers performed a bullying play to help show what youth can do when they’re bullied.

A number of booths were set up with information on how to handle bullying.

The festival was started by the tweens two years ago with support from the Edmonton Police Service.

“This is a festival that was started by the tweens for the tweens,” said EPS Acting Sgt. Jerrid Maze.

“It was the idea of the children to start this festival to bring awareness to bullying.”

A group of tweens had been working with Maze and a social worker two years ago and bullying came out as one of the most important issues the tweens were talking about during meetings.

“We’ve all had our share of bullying moments and we’ve seen how bullying can start at a young age and go into adulthood. The festival is being pro-active,” Maze said.

“It’s quite amazing that tweens could come up with such an idea and such a concept. The fact that they put so much effort and so much time and so much thinking into it is unbelievable.”

Various local charities, organizations and businesses dedicated to stopping family violence, racism, animal abuse and seniors’ abuse came out to support the festival and teach about the different forms of violence.

There was also special guest appearances by Edmonton Eskimos players and members of the Edmonton Oil Kings.