As a second grader, I remember finding out that Martin Luther King Jr. wasn’t actually royalty.
Somehow I’d come up with that idea since he had his own day, I guess.
As an adult, I was even more surprised when I realized his family was well educated and well off, particularly as compared to my own family in that time period.
But the defining moment for me was on a tour of his birth home in Atlanta when the park ranger gave a side story about the restoration.
Family members perused old magazines to identify wallpapers, furniture and other décor that would have been in the home when he was a small child. When his sister came to see the result, she was asked if the house looked close to her memories.
She said yes, except for Martin’s room. She said it had never been that neat and clean in real life.
And that’s the moment he became not a king or a celebrity; not poor or wealthy; not any of those labels: he became a normal kid.
That’s what sticks with me every year as we commemorate his birthday with service projects, speakers, awards and celebrations—Martin Luther King, Jr., was a real person.
Last Sunday one of our 4-H’ers was honored with the Young Dreamer Award by the Newton County MLK Celebration Committee.
A year ago, Hope Allen was in a Mississippi hospital receiving blood transfusions and learning she had Crohn’s disease; last month she successfully collected 35 units of blood at her Red Cross blood drive thanks to our community’s help.
Throughout her treatment she remained cheerful and optimistic, always looking for a way to help others.
I reminded her after the ceremony that we nominated her for the award not because of what she has already done, but because of what great things we know she’s capable of dreaming and achieving.
Just like the award’s namesake, she’s a kid who can do big things if she sets her mind to it.
Tuesday night, 4-H’er CJ Harris was recognized by the Newton County Board of Commissioners for receiving a $500 grant from Disney Summer of Service and Youth Service America.
Harris is an eighth grade home school student who started 3D printing prosthetic hands for kids through the eNABLE project just over a year ago. He taught other 4-H members to assemble the hands for distribution to kids in need.
The grant funding will purchase a 3D printer for the 4-H office, and additional donations will fund supplies for the prosthetic hands as he continues to grow his project.
On Saturday, Feb. 25, he will lead an event to not only assemble eight prosthetic hands, but also to teach teams of youth and adults how to get involved in the eNABLE project.
If you can provide a large meeting room (for 100+), snacks, or funding, we need your help. Please contact email@example.com or 770-784-2010 with any leads.
If you, your school or your business owns a 3D printer, you may attend to learn how to print hands.
If you, your school or group might be interested in assembling hands or donating funds for others to produce and assemble hands, bring a group to take part and learn how it works!
We need youth and adults to take part and make Harris’ Hand-A-Thon a success. If you are interested, please let us know so we can share the details as they are available.
As we passed a prosthetic hand around to commissioners Tuesday, I couldn’t help but think about the 4-H’ers who have passed through that room for more than 100 years. In 1905 they were exhibiting the fruits of their first year of work in the Boys’ Corn Club in that very room.
Today, students who would have been in two separate, segregated clubs just blocks apart at our start are working together to 3D print prosthetics.
Re-read that last part again, because, yes, it’s pretty amazing!
For these pre-teens and teens taking part, it seems like normal 4-H stuff.
And that’s what inspires me to dream, too, about where we’ll be in another 10, 20 or 100 years with kids like these taking the lead.
Terri Fullerton is a County Extension Agent in 4-H Youth with University of Georgia Cooperative Extension.