Wittenberg students mentor middle schoolers at MLK event

College and middle school students gathered Saturday to learn from the lessons of one of the country’s most influential leaders.

The seventh Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Community Service, organized by Wittenberg University’s Community Service Program, saw around 25 Wittenberg students leading roughly 25 Hayward Middle School students in a day of games, crafts and activities tying into King’s message of peace at the Springfield Center for Innovation: The Dome’s YOUMedia Learning Lab.

The program takes places two weeks after the MLK holiday weekend due to the Wittenberg students not being back on campus yet after the holiday break.

After several years of doing the program with elementary school kids, it was time to return to an older group excited to learn.

“They love to help in the community,” said Hayward counselor Carrie Hanna. Kristen Collier, Wittenberg’s Director of Community Services, also attended.

Eighth-grader Kerry Johnson had already done research and reading on King and was eager to learn so he could put knowledge into action.

“I just want to help out and show younger kids there’s no difference between black and white — we can all be friends,” he said.

Wittenberg junior Sarah White co-coordinated the event for the second consecutive year, along with Jaymie Green, making adjustments for the middle schoolers. A biochemistry major, White does this because she loves helping people, as do her fellow volunteers.

“What we want you to think about is world peace as the end goal. But in your everyday lives you can act like that’s already true,” White told the students at the opening.

Activities included an education station to investigate an issue and debate, an interactive game station for team-building and a craft station showing how hands can be helpful in creating peace.

The team-building saw groups of four using a string to move a stack of cups from one table to another, resulting in hard work and laughter. They also saw leaders emerge, especially when doing the tasks a second time and with different people.

“It’s cool to see them work as a team, to see it raw and how they react,” said Bethany Newell, a sophomore education major from Louisville, Ky.

Following another activity, eighth-grader Aysia Kunce learned how to debate and said she’ll now use that knowledge in her everyday life.

This was the first time the program was presented at the Dome and White said it was a good fit.

Part of the program included most of the students getting their first look at the YOUMedia Learning Lab to show what will be available when they become high school students.

About the Author