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Bitterroot Valley organizations honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

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BEAR and RC Museum offer MLK activities in the Bitterroot Valley

BEAR Training and Outreach Coordinator Katie DeFelice holds the posters for their "Commit to Kindness" campaign in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. “We hope community members will commit to two weeks of doing an act of kindness each day, Jan. 17–31,” she said.

In the Bitterroot Valley, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day activities will be taking place at schools, the Ravalli County Museum and BEAR, the outdoor-based mentoring program for youth.

A free family activity, MLK Dream of Peace, will be held at the Ravalli County Museum on Saturday, Jan. 15,

Educator Nancy Joy Valk said the lesson provides an opportunity for youth to learn about Martin Luther King, Jr. and his dream for peace.

“The lesson focuses on kindness as we cut shapes and build a collage about peace in our communities,” Valk said. “Primarily I want to promote the speech that he gave focused on fairness. I like his quote about ‘I dream of a day when all men will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.’”

She said that as children build a collage that represents peace in their life by cutting up colorful papers and images, there will be an open-ended discussion about kindness philosophies and acceptance for all.

“We’ll talk about our characters and how we care about one another,” Valk said. “I want each child to have a freedom of expression, express kindness and how they want to treat other people.”

Valk said she taught the MLK activity a few years ago and she enjoys timing activities with holidays and special calendar days.

“This speaks to every moment of our life,” she said. “Anytime you can express the integrity of character, how you live your life, what we want in our town, it does speak to making choices. It shows who you are, how you relate to others and how you participate in your community.”

Attend The free family activity, MLK Dream of Peace, from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Jan. 15, at the Ravalli County Museum, 205 Bedford St., Hamilton.

The BEAR, the youth mentoring program, has put together a"Commit to Kindness" campaign for the community in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr.

BEAR Training & Outreach Coordinator Katie DeFelice said she’s been inspired by King.

“I’ve been reading some of his quotes and some of his speeches and obviously he was a huge political figure for civil rights, but he also had a strong vision of tight-knit communities where people lived well together and loved each other,” she said. “His whole non-violent movement had the foundation of love and infuse love into communities.”

She has been pondering community values, individual values and how those are turned into action.

“[Locally,] I’ve been reading so many great articles about kids coming up with donation programs, The Salvation Army meeting needs, and there are so many people who are trying to do good in our community,” DeFelice said. “It is so good that we have that value of compassion in our community. People are turning that into action.”

She’s developed a campaign to help the community show what they value.

“In BEAR we’re all about the group values,” DeFelice said. “We don’t have a bunch of rules and hard-core consequences, but we guide behavior through the learning and common sharing of our values, and ‘caring for self and others’ is one of those values.”

BEAR is about building community connections for participating youth and their families.

The "Commit to Kindness" campaign includes doing an act of kindness every day for two weeks, Jan. 17–31.

DeFelice and BEAR youth have developed displays and posters offering activities for community members who want to participate in sharing compassion. The displays will be set up at the Bitterroot Public Library this week and in other locations in Hamilton and in Victor next week.

On the BEAR website, http://www.bearmt.org, there will be materials to download with ideas for acts of kindness. Small posters say, “Kindness is…listening to friends, believe in yourself, care for the environment, helping elderly, writing a note" and other easy-to-do suggestions.

“[Community members] can download the whole infographics campaign or series that will be on display in the library,” DeFelice said. “They can print the information out to hang in their classroom or community space to encourage kids, family members and the community to participate. There will be information about Dr. King as well as a downloadable card.”

DeFelice said this is a start and she hopes to build on the "Commit to Kindness" campaign for years.

“Doing acts of kindness for people, whether that is your sibling, whether that is a parent or just telling someone you appreciate them,” DeFelice said. “During Covid, we have so many people who have stayed committed to working and showing kindness. We can care for them.”

She said committing to kindness activities can be as simple as handing someone a little card.

“A token of ‘hey, I see you, I’m thinking about you,’” DeFelice said. “If they want to share, they can also take a photo of themselves doing kindness in action and share it on social media. On their own page, they can use these hashtags #MLKday and #BeKind22 and it will get it out there.”

To share with BEAR, use Facebook and Instagram use Bitterroot.BEAR

“If people tell us directly what kindness they are seeing in the community they can tell us and we can post to social media too,” DeFelice said.

She’s hoping the community will participate in the "Commit to Kindness" campaign and choose to act like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. encouraged when he said, “The time is always right to do what is right.”

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