About 100 foster children visited Loyola Marymount University on Saturday, Jan. 15, to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The children, along with dozens of volunteers, heard from professionals who gave them insights into possible careers and watched a drum and dance performance.
“This is an opportunity for them to see a university campus,” said Leslie Ponciano, director of the Early Childhood Education Program at LMU’s School of Education and an assistant professor. “They get a chance to understand the value of education and setting career goals.”
As important, Ponciano added, they “get to be typical kids for a day … and not identified as foster kids or at-risk kids. Here they’re seen as kids with potential.” Ponciano is a board member of Peace4Kids, the sponsor of the day at LMU. Peace4Kids provides programs and services for foster and at-risk youth from ages 5-18, and after they transition to independent living until age 24. Peace4Kids mentors youth primarily in the Los Angeles neighborhoods of Watts, Willowbrook and the city of Compton.
Courtney Nash, who grew up in the foster child system and is now a junior recording arts technology major, credits the help she received from assistance programs. “I found Peace4Kids through the Black Eyed Peas' Peapod Music and Arts Academy,” she said, referring to the arts academy organized by a foundation run by the pop music group. “I learned the importance of taking your education into your own hands and taking advantage of all of the resources … that is something I've carried over and am using now at LMU.”
Nash added, “My passions, from sound design to youth advocacy, have a welcome place and support from the community. LMU is home.”
LMU will continue its Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration with “One People, One Dream,” a program of prayer, dance, song and spoken word, on Thursday, Jan. 20, sponsored by the university’s Office of Black Student Services and Campus Ministry.
“As we commemorate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., I can’t help but rejoice in the direct correlation of his dream and the LMU mission,” said Gail Buck, director of the Office of Black Student Services. “Dr. King’s quote, ‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,’ directly relates to our mission of a strong commitment to the common good.”
To learn more about Peace4Kids and their programs, click here. To learn more about LMU’s Office of Black Student Services, click here.
Posted Jan. 19, 2011