How MLK Jr. Shapes Play

Some thoughts as we celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day:

Sometimes it feels like we have this idealistic picture of Martin Luther King Jr. in our heads. We remember him as the “Dream” guy. The hopeful guy. The sweet man who spoke out for equality and unity.

Unfortunately, we’ve whitewashed the memory of this man and what he stood for. We’ve made him safe and comfortable, but the thing about Martin Luther King Jr. is that he was never safe and comfortable. He was a boat rocker. He was a rabble rouser. He was hated and despised and he threatened the holders of power.

As Play is about to begin another session of our afterschool program, I’ve been thinking a lot about the kids that we serve. I think about the diversity that is on display in our program, where over 60% of our students are minorities and almost all of them come from low-income households.

There’s something very unique about the children that come to our program. Most of our kids are called disruptive by their teachers. Many of our kids are labelled as troublesome and combative. Some afterschool programs have even deemed them too difficult to work with.

Are there behavioral issues that need to be addressed? Absolutely. At Play we address them out of relationship and with understanding of the context that our children live in each day.

But let me tell you about the kids that I want at Play:

I want the rebels, the boat rockers, the rabble rousers. Send me the labelled, the disruptive, the combative. Give me a child who is willing to speak up when every other adult tells them to shut up.

If history is made by those who disrupt the normalcy of life… If change is created by those who are not satisfied with the status quo, then we have a bunch of world shakers that enter our doors every day at 4pm.

So my question is:  Where are you?

We have tomorrow’s leaders sitting in front of us every day in our after school program. There’s no better way to honor the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. than to invest in the lives of tomorrow’s world changers. Will you join us for this next session of After School Play?

Click "Partner With Us" to register today.

Andrew Neal, Director of Brookside Community Play