Loyola Marymount University commemorated Martin Luther King Day with a visit by 100 foster children who were greeted by Rep. Karen Bass, Los Angeles County Supervisor Gloria Molina, and former boxer and entrepreneur Laila Ali.
The foster children, many of whom were making their first visit to a university campus, were encouraged to see higher education as a viable part of their development. They spent the day attending workshops, hearing professionals talk about their careers and receiving college counseling, along with entertaining activities.
The foster children in their middle to late teens met with Bass, who spoke about the work she has done to transform the foster care system. Her goal, she said, is to see that “foster children are treated as regular kids,” receiving the same care and consideration that parents take with their own children. During her years in the California Assembly, Bass carried several bills to support programs and funding for foster youth, including legislation that uses federal funds to extend support to California’s foster youth to the age of 21.
Molina was honored with the Peace4Kids’ award for Peace in Service. She vowed to work to make the foster care system in L.A. County more responsive to children’s needs. Molina was recognized for her Foster Youth Education Program that has dramatically improved the graduation rates of system-involved youths in her district. Ali, the opening ceremony host and a daughter of Muhammad Ali, told the children to “listen to your heart and work as hard as you can.”
The Martin Luther King Day celebration at LMU was sponsored by Peace4Kids, a weekly program that offers foster children a variety of activities and mentoring programs, in cooperation with the university and the Volunteer Center Youth Coalition.