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Missoula school marks Martin Luther King Jr. Day by reading for peace

Posted at 4:09 PM, Jan 17, 2022

MISSOULA — Although it is a federal holiday and the perks being a day off of school and work for many people, Martin Luther King Jr. Day remained a “day on” for many.

Volunteers at Hellgate Elementary School read books to students about the legacy and current issues we face today surrounding peace and injustice.

Montana Campus Compact staff member and MLK Read for Peace volunteer Maura Jones says it' more than a day — it's an opportunity to share history and inspiration for the future generation.

“So there's that really great aspect that is the kids feeling empowered to learn and share the words and the legacy of MLK,” Jones told MTN News.

Jones read to a kindergarten class so the stories could help initiate a further conversation about what peace and injustice look like, through their eyes.

“That's all that it is, is America's history and getting kids to have those conversations as young as kindergarten and they're very capable of having those conversations as well,” AmeriCorps senior leader Emily McMath noted.

When asked to think about what being kind looks like to them, some students said sharing their seat on the bus with others while others dream a bit bigger.

“Oh, some of them want to see the world you know, a place where people care more about animals and where people you know, are caring more about having places for people to sleep,” Jones told MTN News.

Montana Campus Compact volunteers have been going into the classroom for the past decade to read and do activities. Although the event was virtual this year, volunteers say students still participate and engage and the impact is just as big.

“Conversations have shown that students are thinking about these issues and engaging them," said MLK Read for Peace volunteer Jonathan Carter. "And so it's important to reach our students to help create a more educated citizenry.”

All of the volunteers stressed the importance of having an open conversation.

“You know, it doesn't have to be this huge in-depth, ideology, conversation. It can be something as simple as, hey, how how do we make sure that we're kind to everyone,” said McMath.

People who are interested in volunteering for AmeriCorps can click here for additional information.