GARY — Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson officially declared April 13 as World Civility Day during a press conference at City Hall Tuesday morning.

"You can be on different sides of an issue," she said. "You can argue your point vociferously, but you can always be respectful and civil."

Freeman-Wilson held the press conference ahead of the second World Civility Day on Thursday, which is hosted by Community Civility Counts. The event includes a full day of civility-centered workshops at the Indiana Welcome Center in Hammond and then a dinner gala at Avalon Manor in Hobart. 

Community Civility Counts was created by the Gary Chamber of Commerce in partnership with The Times Media Co., in an effort to bring civility back into everyday interactions. 

"That's what this really is about," Freeman-Wilson said. "Respecting your fellow man, treating your neighbor as yourself, being willing to respect the person, whoever that person is." 

Gary Chamber Executive Director Chuck Hughes thanked the city of Gary and the mayor for supporting the initiative and making the declaration. 

The workshops Thursday will focus on all aspects of civility in life, from civility in the workplace to race relations to education. 

Students from two Gary schools that have been piloting a program associated with the initiative spoke about their experience. 

"Civility Counts is knowing how to interact with your peers, friends and community and have control of your actions," said Steel City ninth-grader Breonna Marshall.  

The classroom program will be the subject of one of the workshops Thursday during World Civility Day. The students and teachers will be speaking about the program and the possibility to expand to other schools. 

Martell Walker, a sophomore at Lighthouse, said he thinks Civility in the Classroom should be taught from kindergarten through high school. 

"It made me want to get out there, you know, set an example," he said. "Be someone to follow."