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Parade of Hearts artist sheds light on KC Mothers in Charge's efforts to end gun violence

parade of hearts
Posted at 9:57 AM, Feb 20, 2024

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Brooke Jiskra is one of the artists chosen to participate in Parade of Hearts and this year her focus is shedding light on gun violence.

"My vision for this heart is to catch people's attention," Jiskra said. "Whether they're just walking past or driving by for the few seconds, I want them to take a moment to see what gun violence can do."

Jiskra is dedicating her parade heart to KC Mothers in Charge. She revealed it to the founder, Rosilyn Temple, for the first time since finishing the piece.

"I wanted to just show that they're on the streets no matter the weather. They're knocking on doors and doing whatever they can to make a difference in our community despite the pain that they have in their lives," Jiskra said. "Seeing Rosilyn find her inner strength and filling gaps where she saw needed improvement ... she inspired me to get involved in the community and to see how I can make a difference instead of just shutting the door and grieving inside my house, which I could easily do."

"This is great," Rosilyn Temple said. "This makes me want to cry."

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Details of the painted heart, including its colors, highlight the pain of violence.

"It represents the sunset is what I was envisioning. Sometimes when the sun goes down, violence ... start to begin," Jiskra said. "It's just kind of representative of how when violence occurs or death occurs and loved ones are taken the days just keep coming. They don't stop for your grief."

Gray bullet holes with red paint, representing blood, pouring out of each one is also displayed, along with police tape with the words "Stop the Violence" and "Mothers in Charge."

KC Mothers in Charge Parade of Hearts

"Somewhere we have to do better ... because you leave mothers behind, children have been left behind ... siblings, grandmothers, fathers," Temple said. "We try to help families process through the process cause there will always be a process."

Families of different ages are also displayed on the heart.

"It affects the children left behind and the grandparents left to raise those young ones and it doesn't just take the life of one person, it takes so many more people than that," Jiskra said.

It's a feeling Temple knows painfully well.

"It'll be 13 years this year that my son ... his life was taken in his own community and it's still unsolved," Temple said. "You're a part of a club that you didn't ask to join."

In the middle of the heart is Rosilyn, holding hands with other mothers who have been through the same thing as her.

"This was not my life," Temple said. "You just don't go on with life, you just learn how to live and heal through the process. When I go to homicide scenes, am I retriggered? I'm there to help somebody else ... a mother," Temple said. "If I could just say, you don't want your mother to be in a situation that I'm in, and many mothers in Kansas City, and fathers and grandmothers. Do something to make a difference."

Temple looked at Jiskra and told her: "You made a difference. Look what you did. I thank you from the bottom of my heart of noticing me, seeing me."

This isn't the first Parade of Hearts Jiskra has been a part of; in 2022 she created a heart, titled 'Broken Hearted,' in honor of the lives lost due to COVID-19, including her sister, who passed away in 2020.

"It changed the artist within myself to be one that has a heart for the hurting," Jiskra said.

The artists for Parade of Hearts receive money for designing hearts. Jiskra donated $400 of her portion to KC Mothers in Charge.

"There's a lot of pain in this community, a lot of violence, and taking our pain and turning it into purpose is what I seek to do," Jiskra said. "I know what Mothers in Charge seeks to do and we really need to just go along side-by-side and say, 'How can we improve our homicide rates in Kansas City, how can we work out our differences without picking up a gun?'"

Jiskra's call to action is for Kansas City to stand alongside Mothers in Charge and work together to eliminate the homicide rates in Kansas City. To learn more about KC Mothers in Charge and ways to get involved, click here.