Wooster’s Youth Empowerment Workshop to Honor MLK Legacy

High school students from Wayne and Stark counties to learn about leadership, service, and equality

14 January, 2014 by John Finn

WOOSTER, Ohio — Most schools in northeast Ohio and across the country will be closed on Monday to commemorate the Martin Luther King, Jr., Holiday, but for an estimated 150 high school students from Wayne and Stark counties, the learning will continue in earnest at The College of Wooster's inaugural Youth Empowerment Workshop.

The event is sponsored in part by a 2014 MLK DAY of Service Collegiate Challenge Grant and The College of Wooster MLK Committee. Also providing support is Wrap 4 a Smile Foundation, which promotes youth and community awareness of local issues related to poverty through distribution programs that provide hygiene, nutrition, and clothing assistance to those in need. The students attending the workshop are from Upward Bound programs in Canton (Kent State Stark and Stark State College) and Wooster (OSU ATI).

"We decided to reach out to youth in the region and bring them to our campus," said MarTeze Hammonds, assistant dean of students and associate director of Wooster's Center for Diversity and Inclusion. "We want to expose them to the words and deeds of Dr. King, and to learn more about his efforts to take action and help others."

The day begins with an introductory welcome at 10:30 a.m., followed by an MLK Teach-In, courtesy of 20 faculty members at Wooster who will address various aspects of the topic, "MLK Fifty Years Later: What Happens to a Dream Deferred?"

Following lunch, students will engage in a series of workshops dealing with leadership and team-building skills. They will also tour the campus and learn about the value of a liberal arts education. In addition, they will participate in two service projects; the first will be a canned-food drive (for which they will bring one item to donate), and the second will be a hygiene kit assembly session, during which they will attempt to fill 5,000 quart-size Ziploc bags with soap, shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, a toothbrush, and a washcloth. The items were provided by Wrap 4 a Smile and the Wooster Wal-Mart store.

"Our goal is to promote youth and community awareness of local issues related to poverty," said Hammonds. "This effort will provide hygiene kits for those in need at the Wooster Salvation Army, Refuge of Hope in Canton, the YWCA of Canton, and HandsOn Northeast Ohio in Cleveland."

The workshop concludes with a celebration of Dr. King's legacy through the arts in McGaw Chapel (340 E. University St.) with music provided by The College of Wooster Gospel Choir and Shades of Gold a cappella ensemble; entertainment by Rodney Brown, assistant professor of dance at The Ohio State University; and readings from the works of Dr. King by student leaders from multiple student organizations.

"We're hoping to empower these students to follow the legacy of Dr. King," said Hammonds. "We want them to appreciate the value of education, community service, and leadership."

For more information, or to participate in the activities, please call 330-263-2067.