Highlights From The King Center's 2016 Camp N.O.W.

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The King Center strives to end violence with its Nonviolence365 educational initiative like Camp NOW. This year the camp, which teaches youth positive conflict resolution and reconciliation, integrated technology into its curriculum to help students learn the application of Dr. King's philosophy and methodology for nonviolence in a manner relevant to them and as a way of life.

“Nonviolence chooses love instead of hate.” This is one of the Six Principles of Nonviolence created by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. These words are more important now than ever. Per the CDC, a 2013 nationwide survey reflects that about 24.7% of high school students reported being in a physical fight in the 12 months before the survey. With all of the hate and violence in the world, it’s important to teach our youth a positive way to confront the challenges they may face. The King Center strives to do this through Camp NOW, its two-week summer camp for youth ages 13-18. The camp uses Dr. King’s nonviolent methodology and philosophy to teach the students about nonviolent conflict reconciliation and how to be leaders in their communities.

“We not only need to teach our children about nonviolence, but teach them how to appropriately handle conflict and to lead by example. One way to instruct them is to connect with them in a fun and engaging way that will encourage them to learn. We have to reach them through channels that are important to them,” stated Bernice A. King, CEO of The King Center and daughter of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Mrs. Coretta Scott King.

This year Camp NOW was expanded to include a technology component. Students were able to utilize the foundation of Nonviolence365 to learn how to code, create apps, and produce films that promote Nonviolence365 as a way of life.

“Using technology, we can promote the message of nonviolence not only on a local or national scale, but globally. We can start conversations in different countries on Dr. King’s nonviolence methodology and how we as youth can conduct ourselves in a nonviolent manner,” stated Jediah Johnson, a Camp NOW student.

Along with the Six Principles of Nonviolence, the scholars also learned how to implement the strategy with the tactics, also known as Dr. King’s Six Steps of Nonviolence. Through a myriad of activities and situational simulations, the teens were able to practice using the six steps. They participated in scenarios that had the potential to be violent, but instead utilized the strategies taught to them to create a positive outcome. Camp coordinator, Cierra “Fly” Bobo, stressed the importance of having the campers walk through the steps in a simulated situation.

“It’s beneficial for the students to get an opportunity to actually use the steps in a classroom setting so that they will learn how to properly execute them in a real life situation,” said Bobo.

The civil rights movement came to life when the students had an opportunity to visit historical sites in Birmingham and Montgomery, Alabama. Some stops included Dexter Avenue Baptist Church where Dr. King preached, the parsonage where Dr. and Mrs. King lived with their first two children, and 16th Street Baptist Church where four young girls died in a 1963 racially charged bombing. They also attended a panel with civil rights leaders Reverend Robert Graetz and Doris Crenshaw at Alabama State University.

On the last day of camp, the students presented movies that they created in groups. The movies were reflections of the lessons they learned and how important Dr. King is to them. The day wrapped up with Dr. Bernice A. King joining the teens in the running man challenge. She and the students challenged other social and civil rights organizations, including Ebenezer Baptist Church, the NAACP, The Boys and Girls Club, the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts of America, the Urban League, the National Action Network, and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. The culmination of the camp was the presentation of completion certificates by Dr. Bernice A. King.

Camp NOW was founded in 2012 and has successfully completed its fifth year. The camp is part of The King Center’s Nonviolence365 educational initiative. Close to 30 students participated in the camp many of whom could not have attended had it not been for the generous donations of corporations and organizations including Wells Fargo, Regions Bank, MWJ, LLC and Independent Living Systems.

About us
The Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change is a 501c3 organization established in 1968 by Mrs. Coretta Scott King. The Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change (“The King Center”) is the official living memorial and programmatic nonprofit organization committed to educating the world on the life, legacy and teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The King Center serves to inspire new generations to carry forward his unfinished work, strengthen causes and empower change-makers who are continuing his efforts today. The King Center’s premiere educational initiative, Nonviolence365, is based on Dr. King’s nonviolent philosophy and engages participants from various sectors of society, including emerging and next generation leaders, in modules and exercises that enhance communication, leadership, interpersonal and conflict reconciliation skills.

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Carmen Luisa Coya-van Duijn
@TheKingCenter
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