MLK Day 2013

In honor of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day holiday, the generationOn Youth Advisory Council members united with Americans across the country in January to complete service projects to honor the memory of Dr. King.

Each Youth Advisory Council member created a project inspired by the theme: Making MLK Day a Day ON - Not a Day Off!

Read about their amazing projects below.

Aulona Graham-Simms

Project: Making MLK a Day On by Connecting to Cultural Diversity on MLK Day

Issue Area: Youth and Human Rights


  • Project Description

I will show kids and my community the importance of cultural diversity, tolerance, and becoming a whole. At an event featuring stations of food and activities from different countries, I will teach paticipants that even though we all have different names and come from different places, we also share similarities and common goals. Dr. King said, "Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly." Likewise, I want participants to come together as one community, one nation, andn one world. Also throughout that week my school will be doing different activities to show cultural awareness and anti-bullying with group discussions about stereotyping.


  • Community Need Addressed

*    This project will help promote cultural diversity and unity. It will also show the community how it can become a more cohesive whole. Finally, it will demonstrate how individuals can work to better the community.

  • Resources Needed

*    Sponsors, volunteers, money 

*    Training supplies

*    Construction supplies

Calla Gilson

Project: An Afternoon of Acceptance: Making MLK Day a Day On at a Language and Culture Expo

Issue Area: Youth and Human Rights


  • Project Description

Youth from the community will be invited to come and learn about various international regions at a local university. A speaker will open the event linking the day's activities to the message Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. proclaimed when he said, "we must learn to live together as brothers." Themed tables will be set up around the expo, each focused on a specific world region, language, or religion. Youth will spend 15 minutes at each station where they will explore the cuisine, language, religion, and culture of each area. After visiting each station, youth will break into small groups and discuss their experiences during the expo and make connections between their lives and the legacy of Martin Luther King to support equality and civil rights for all. 


  • Community Need Addressed

This project will work to dispel the social prejudice that is too often present in our world. By educating youth on social acceptance, we work towards a more peaceful humanity governed by understanding and compromise. Such goals are directly in line with the work of Martin Luther King Jr. and promote his lasting legacy.


  • Resources Needed

*   Tables and chairs

*   Outlets

*   generationOn banner

*   MLK Jr. related supplies

*   Snack and beverages

Cole Ettingoff 

Project: Making MLK Day a Day On in the Community

 Issue Area:

Youth Engagement

  • Project Description

Students from several area high schools will complete numerous service projects for MLK Day during the week surrounding the holiday. The week begins the Saturday before MLK Day with a charity bowl-off and continues with battle of the bands, an MLK Day neighborhood clean-up, making no stitch blankets for the children's hospital, a student blood drive, and middle school fitness day. Each project is designed to reach a certain audience including Clean Memphis, Le Bonheur Children's Hospital, Memphis Music Foundation, Memphis Blood Bank, Make a Wish, the Neighborhood School, and Lester Community Center.


  • Community Need Addressed

The goal is first to engage more youth in service to their community. We will follow up with each student to encourage them to continuing volunteering by including suggestions for future volunteer opportunities. Each project specifically addresses a different need to help students discover which causes they are passionate about. The middle school fitness day will be run by and for middle school students with the support of high school servant leaders. The hope is that all students will make service to others a part of their lives.


  • Resources Needed

Each project has specific needs such as:

*    Garbage bags, gloves, rakes, hedge clippers, and water for the cleanup

*    Fabric and ribbons for the blankets

*    Sports equipment (balls, jump ropes, etc.) for the fitness day

*    Music equipment for Battle of the Bands

*    Signs and prizes for the bowl-off


Kelsey Leeper

Project: Making MLK Day a Day On Youth Engagement

Issue Area:  Youth Engagement


  • Project Description

A website will be developed that will provide statewide resources to youth on how they can become engaged in their local and state communities through service. The stories of local high school service projects will be featured as inspiration along with steps explaining how to complete similar projects. There will also be links to the state Legislative Youth Advisory Council, a group dedicated to representing the young people in the state to leading officials. 


  • Community Need Addressed

Every school in my state mandates community service before graduation, and most young people want to become involved but don't know how. The website will provide resources on how to become involved in already established programs while the steps to creating students' own service projects will be laid out through documents, pictures and videos. The site will also explain how to share service projects and ideas with legislators  so youth can change laws when necessary. Finally, assistance will be given to the local high schools highlighted on this website so their projects will be as successful as possible.

  • Resources Needed

*    Website domain and website designer

*    Photo and film camera to capture service project stories

*    Flyers to help collect service stories and to alert people to the new site


Lance Oppenheim

Project: Making MLK Day a Day On by Spreading Awareness about Dementia and Alzheimer's

Issue Area: Health and Seniors


  • Project Description

The basis of the project will revolve around a short documentary that provides insight on Alzheimer's and Dementia through the profiling of a man who suffers a severe case of both debilitating diseases. The documentary's topic of Dementia and Alzheimers are composed indirectly through the overarching themes of age and the cycle of life displayed directly through jointly composed footage of the man at several, earlier periods of his life. The juxtaposition of certain timeframes and parts of the man's life through older footage with his current state provides for a personal account of the afflictions and inhibitions of Alzheimer's and Dementia.


  • Community Need Addressed

As Dr. King once said, "Everything that we see is a shadow cast by that which we do not see." I believe that this documentary will help to raise community awareness about two difficult diseases that often leave loved ones as shadows of their former selves. These diseases, which typically afflict the elderly, often impact the entire family. I hope to help draw attention to this issue. 


  • Resources Needed

*    Local schools to distribute the documentary

*    Volunteers to help assemble the screening



quicksand from Lance Oppenheim on Vimeo.

Marc Berson

Project: Making MLK Day a Day On by Hosting a Book Drive

Issue Area: Literacy


  • Project Description

Students from Cafe Freedom, a student organization dedicated to mobilizing youth to engage in community-wide improvement, will set up donation areas in the community to collect gently used elementary-age books. We will advertise our project through several outlets including social media. Once we have finished the book collection which will go on for about a week, we will sort through the books and make sure that they are in decent condition and age appropriate. The books that are deemed acceptable will then be brought to Title 1 schools throughout the area.


  • Community Need Addressed

This project will help with the low literacy rate that plagues Hillsborough County. In 2006, data from the Florida Department of Education showed that 35% of Hillsborough County children were unprepared to read. At Title 1 schools, most students are from a low socio-economic background. Children from low socio-economic backgrounds have a range of barriers to overcome to become proficient readers. The children typically have fewer books at home, more limited access to educational materials (books, computers, magazines), and may receive lower levels of encouragement to read. Therefore, one of my goals with this project is to be able to provide students with resources in order to foster their success.


  • Resources Needed

*    Boxes, labels, and markers

*    Books

*    Flyers


Nayah Boucaud

Project: Making MLK Day a Day On by Facilitating an Anti Cyber-Bullying Campaign

Issue Area:

Youth and Human Rights

  • Project Description

Students from a Florida virtual school will take part in a week-long campaign filled with contest, games, information sessions and other activities talking about cyber-bullying and bullying. Students will also make a book filled with tips on how to deal with bullying and cyber-bullying.


  • Community Need Addressed

According to Dr. King, "love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into friend." This project will expand on that theme to help students deal with bullying, an issue of growing concern in contemporary society. Today, 1 out of 4 kids is bullied and up to 43% of students have been bullied while online. I hope that this project will be one small step to help reduce those statistics


  • Resources Needed 
  • Virtual classroom
  • Guest speakers
  • Games and activities
  • Prizes and certificates
  • Supplies to make virtual book (Word, PDF, Printer, etc)


Rachel Ley

Project: From Wisconsin to Nicaragua: Making MLK Day a Day On by Generating Peace

Issue Area: Literacy


  • Project Description

Elementary students from my community will get together to write letters, make bookmarks, and create friendship bracelets that will be sent to students in Nicaragua. Area high school students will lead the youth in each activity. The day will culminate with students sharing their own experiences. As an added bonus, they will receive prizes for participating. 

All of the items that are created during the event will be going to students in Nicaragua through the Wisconsin-Nicaragua Partnership.


  • Community Need Addressed

This project will bring together students from around the community to learn about the importance of peace and service. Dr. King posited that, "Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?'" On this day of service, particpants will have a clear answer. The project will also benefit students in Nicaragua, where approximately 70% of the population is living in extreme poverty (less than $2/day).


  • Resources Needed

*   Paper and markers: to create cards, letters, and bookmarks

*   String and beads: to make friendship bracelets


Rachel Shuster

Project: Making MLK Day a Day On by Hosting a Tennis Clinic for Children with Special Needs

Issue Area: Youth and Health


  • Project Description

Members of Kids Care HHH will volunteer and buddy up with a child with special needs and they will take part in a tennis clinic. During the tennis event, we will play different variations of games including mini drills and "around the world." Each volunteer will be buddied with a child with special needs to show them basic tennis skills as well as developing a friendship between the duos. Dr. King once said, "

If you can't fly then run, if you can't run then walk, if you can't walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward." 

This event will hopefully strengthen the bonds between the volunteers and children with special needs, demonstrating that no matter who you are and no matter what your skill set, you can participate and thrive. 


  • Community Need Addressed

This project will help to establish a recreational program for youth with special needs and it will also give volunteers an opportunity to interact with the youth attendees. It is important for my community to have programs in which children with special needs can participate. The tennis event will hopefully spark an interest in the sport in the youth and engage them in a recreational activity they may not think to do on their own. The best thing about this is that they get to make new friends with the volunteers while doing it.


  • Resources Needed

*    Tennis racket and balls

*    Hula hoops

*    Awards

*    Snacks and water

*    Music


Ruchita Zaparde

Project: Making MLK Day a Day On by Hosting a Community Craft Supplies Drive

Issue Area: Youth

  • Project Description


Recently, I learned about a pressing need for arts-and-crafts supplies for elementary schools in the economically depressed parts of Trenton, since they are suffering from budget cuts. This drive aims to help some local elementary schools acquire the supplies they need for arts classes. The students who attend these schools, where the supplies will be delivered, will benefit from this drive. This drive also helps ensure that these schools have all the necessary supplies to conduct successful classes. 


  • Community Need Addressed

Students from local schools will participate in a drive for arts-and-crafts supplies. According to Dr. King, "

We must live together as brothers or perish together as fools." 

This drive aims to help bring together youth from nearby communities and encourage a deeper relationship based on sharing. Local elementary schools, which lack critical supplies, will acquire things needed for art clases and activities. These elementary schools are in an economically distressed area which is currently suffering from budget cuts. By hosting an arts and crafts supplies drive, we will help out schools in our broad community!


  • Resources Needed

*    Boxes, duct tape, and labels

*    Flyers/posters

Tharon Truillo

Project: Making MLK Day a Day On by Collecting Donated Sports Equipment for Schools

Issue Area: Youth and Health


  • Project Description

*    This project will support a local high school in January. The school only has $100 for all sports equipment for all 1,500 students for the entire year. The first step is to reach out to the community to see if they will donate supplies and equipment to help support P.E. classes and after school sports at the school. The next step is to ask local area non-profits to donate supplies or equipment. It is very important to always follow up with a thank you letter once a donation is made!


  • Community Need Addressed

*   Providing a healthy lifestyle

*    Allowing students to be more active by teaching them sports

*    Bringing together different community groups


  • Resources Needed

*    Basketballs, baseballs, footballs, soccer balls, tennis balls, volleyballs, etc.

*    Paper, pencils, and pens

*    Thank you notes


Tiffani Alexander

Project: Empowerment and Service: Making MLK Day a Day On by Speaking with Students and Packaging Medical Supplies

Issue Area: Health, Education, and Youth 

  • Project Description

 *   This MLK Day project is two-fold, containing both education and service components. First, I will visit elementary schools where I will talk with 5th grade classes about Dr. King's commitment to service, and the importance of volunteerism. I will remind them of Dr. King's words, "Everyone can be great because anyone can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't even have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve... You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love..." For the service project, youth ages 14-19 will volunteer at MedShare International, where medical supplies will be sorted and packaged before being sent  to developing countries.

  • Community Need Addressed

*   According to Healthcare Without Harm, "U.S. hospitals generate more than two million tons of medical waste each year. Much of that waste is unused medical supplies and equipment. Meanwhile, the World Health Organization estimates that more than 10 million children under the age of five die in the developing world due to inadequate medical care." - Medshare International Website

My projects will encourage youth service in the community and help improve medical conditions globally. The projects will also improve students' awareness of community, and world issues.

  • Resources Needed

*    MLK stickers and bookmarks

*    MLK posters

*    Volunteers

Tyler Bleuel

Project: Be Aware, Care: Making MLK Day a Day on by Raising Awareness of Domestic Abuse

Issue Area: Human Rights


  • Project Description

*    The coordinator of the local domestic abuse shelter will come to several local schools to inform kids of the effects of domestic abuse. Then a victim from the shelter will come and talk about their personal experience. After this, youth participants will ask what the shelter needs most (money, clothing, etc...) and the schools will compete to collect the largest number of needed items.


  • Community Need Addressed

*   1 in 4 women report experiencing domestic violence in their lifetime. This project will help ensure that everyone will be more aware of domestic abuse and its effects. It will also help the victims in the shelters by donating what they need most.


  • Resources Needed

*    Speakers

*    Thank you notes for speakers

*    Collection station

*    Larges boxes or bags to help move donations

*    Transportation

Zachary Odegard

Project: Making MLK Day On by Hosting a "Service-To-Go Day"

Issue Area:  Hunger, Seniors, Military, Literacy, Homelessness

  • Project Description

*   I will host a day of service at a local children's museums where youth and families will have a chance to participate in service-to-go-projects.

 Service-to-go-projects are community service projects that can be done anywhere: in a classroom, a club setting or right in your own home. Participants will have the chance to make place mats for meals on wheels, key rings for homeless shelters, bookmarks, write letters to soldiers, and create cat toys for animal shelters, and learn about a variety of other fun and creative things they can do with their own family right in their own home, on any of their days off, showing them they can make a difference, be a volunteer, make their mark on the world, anytime--any place.


  • Community Need Addressed

* A unique opportunity to show families and youth the importance of volunteering. This project will show people how easy it can be to serve, and make a difference in the lives of others by creating simple craft projects right in their own home. With the variety of different opportunities they will have at this event, it will also open conversations between parents and children about the community needs, hopefully sparking their imagination, and their ambition, to go out and make a difference in our community by using their own ideas, and passion.


  • Resources Needed

*    Small boxes

*    Directions for each station

*    Specific supplies for each station (cat nip, key ring, blank book marks etc)

*    Basic craft supplies (markers, glue, scissors, hole punch, tape, etc.)

*    Transportation and space


MLK Day is a Day On Across the Country

Find out more about the national movement and get involved: