Working at the Boys and Girls Club in Salem, Chelsea Gans has one major goal: empower Salem-Keizer youth.
Gans said she wants to teach the children she works with about peace, unity and respect, but also that their dreams and aspirations are obtainable.
To honor civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr. on Monday, Gans helped kids make posters and murals. She worked with them to learn about King and his work leading up to the day.
“One student came up to me and told me he was a descendant of MLK Jr. I asked if it was because he is African-American and he said, ‘Yes,’ ” she said, smiling.
Gans said she would like others to listen to, lift up and learn from the youth’s stories more frequently.
“There are many faces of diversity,” she said. “With the future of Trump as president, I hope people can be open minded … respecting (themselves) and others, even if they have a different opinion.
Gans said community service and research are great ways to start when it comes to celebrating the MLK Jr. holiday, but don’t stop there.
“MLK Jr. broke down a lot of walls, not just for the black community, but for others as well,” she said. “These holidays (can be) meaningless… but they (can also be) a good time to reflect (on) where we’ve come from and how to progress moving forward.”