MISSOULA – Missoula residents, University of Montana students and national service volunteers will bring the message of Martin Luther King Jr. to hundreds of elementary school children in classrooms as part of the sixth-annual MLK Read for Peace project on Friday, Jan. 15.
MLK Read for Peace, a collaboration between Montana Campus Compact and local schools with support from the Corporation of National and Community Service, places college student volunteers, community members and national service participants in kindergarten through fifth-grade classrooms to read and discuss an age-appropriate book about the life and work of King. Volunteers then lead students through an activity – creating a drawing or poem – which the Missoula Public Library and Barnes and Noble will display during the month of February.
“Montana is a state that values differences and that works collectively to solve its problems,” said Josh Vanek, MTCC network services director. “Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service is a great reminder of the grassroots work that communities regularly undertake to address their biggest challenges.”
The event allows students to contemplate the ideas of peace, equality and social justice while enjoying a long weekend observing King’s birthday on Monday, Jan. 18. Though King’s work is not a required part of the elementary curriculum in most schools, many teachers choose to include King in their January coursework.
MLK Read for Peace helps teachers engage their students in learning about the iconic leader of the American civil rights movement and his community engagement.
Last year during MLK Read for Peace, 123 volunteers read to more than 2,900 students at 50 schools. This year, volunteers hope to reach more than 2,500 students statewide. Volunteers for this event include AmeriCorps VISTA members; Senior Corps volunteers from Missoula Aging Services; UM students, faculty and staff; community volunteers; and local elected officials. This year marks the 30th observation of King’s birthday as a federal holiday.
For more information on the event, email MTCC AmeriCorps VISTA leader Lacy Fiore at email@example.com or call 406-243-5671. Information for statewide Martin Luther King Jr. Day events can be found online at the Governor’s Office of Community Service website, http://serve.mt.gov.
MTCC works to improve communities and educate students of their civic and social responsibilities. In addition to UM, MTCC member campuses include Blackfeet Community College, Carroll College, Flathead Valley Community College, Fort Peck Community College, Montana State University, MSU Great Falls College of Technology, Helena College UM, Little Big Horn College, MSU-Billings, MSU-Northern, Montana Tech of UM, Rocky Mountain College, Salish Kootenai College, UM Western and the University of Great Falls.