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Civic Impact

Create a 'beloved community' after MLK; enter the Girls Coalition girls' essay contest

The Girls Coalition of Southwestern Pennsylvania is hoping to inspire girls with a new contest based on the principles that Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. espoused -- and to inspire girls' ideas beyond the only thing they probably know about King: his "I have a dream" speech.
The newly announced Martin Luther King, Jr. Essay Contest for girls in grades 6-12 is intended "to bring girls' voices into the work we are doing," says Coalition Program Director Heather Mediate, "helping them bring their ideas to the table so they can change the world themselves."
Girls can write, or make a brief video, that answers the question, "How can I change the world?" or "How am I a leader for justice, equality, and fairness for all people in my community and beyond?" or "What does it mean to be part of the 'beloved community?'" which references a less-famous quote of King's:  "Our goal is to create a beloved community and this will require a qualitative change in our souls as well as a quantitative change in our lives."
"We wanted to bring to the table some of the other tenets of his philosophy," says Mediate of King. "'Beloved community' was about creating an all-inclusive society where we could eliminate evils together. When we work together, we can come up with solutions."
While the essays and videos alone may not change the world, the effort is intended to show girls that "we can accomplish great things in nonviolent ways," she adds. "Martin Luther King was someone who strongly believed things could change, and that they should change, and he strongly committed his life to seeing that they did change."
Essays of 300-500 words, or two- to three-minute videos, are due Jan. 4, 2013 at 5 p.m. Email here or see the Coalition website for details. Winners from three categories (grades 6-8, grades 9 and 10, and grades 11 and 12) will be judged by representatives of the YWCA, UPMC Center for Inclusion, Women for a Healthy Environment, Girl Scouts and other organizations that share the Coalition's emphasis on aiding the lives of girls. Finalists and winners will be announced Jan. 15, 2013 and selected essays and videos will be presented at the Union Project's annual Martin Luther King, Jr. celebration on Jan. 21. 
Writer: Marty Levine
Source: Heather Mediate, Girls Coalition Southwestern Pennsylvania
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