Volunteers ranging from college students to elders of the Rosedale community will join Rosedale Development Association Jan. 21 – 24, the week of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, for their annual Reading Inspirational Stories to Empower, or R.I.S.E., program.
For the eighth year, community volunteers will visit over 50 Rosedale classrooms to read stories about civil rights and social justice. Through the program, volunteer readers engage local children about the country’s struggle toward equality, and how it continues today, according to a spokesman.
This year’s theme is “Lift Every Voice” and will encourage students in adding their own voices of advocacy and knowledge that they are agents for change in their communities.
After reading and discussing the books, students will be invited to participate in a social action project. This component has students “lift their voices” to identify pressing issues and share ideas on how to improve the community.
“Since the youth are unable to vote, the advocacy component will invite volunteer readers and legislators to take the voices of the students into consideration as we work to shape the future of our community,” Je T’aime Taylor, Rosedale Development Association program director, said of the program.
The books that have been chosen for this year’s program highlight voting, running for office and advocating for migrant rights. R.I.S.E. was started to honor and continue the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who said,”Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” This bridge between the action of yesterday and the advocacy of today is a fundamental component of the R.I.S.E. program, a spokesman said.
Those who have participated in the program in past years include Dottie Griffin, a volunteer who has participated in the program since 2013.
While reading to a 4th grade Noble Prentis classroom, Griffin paused, saying, “Now, if you see me put my hand on my chest or hear my voice get a little wavy, it’s because I was alive when this happened to Dr. King, and I still remember clearly what we went through back then.”
She then went on to explain why it was important today’s students understand what she and her peers endured, using her experiences to show that these youth can be the powerful change-makers of today.
R.I.S.E. volunteers will attend an orientation at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 14, in the Rainbow Mennonite Church fellowship hall at 1444 Southwest Blvd., Kansas City, Kansas.
A complimentary dinner will be provided by the Health Forward Foundation for participants.
The training will orient volunteers toward the importance of reading and communication and emphasize how to help students identify and draw lessons from a story’s theme. In addition, activities will help volunteers reflect on inequality in and around their own lives and possibly inspire them to take action.
Rosedale Development Association is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to work with residents, businesses, and institutions to develop a thriving Rosedale community.
For more information about the program or to get involved, contact RDA Program Director, Je T’aime Taylor at 913-677-5097 or firstname.lastname@example.org.