GLCM programs in the news again!

Program celebrates King’s legacy


Peace, science, understanding promoted at Great Lakes Children’s Museum



Peace Day Activity Madison

·         Record-Eagle/Jan-Michael Stump

Record-Eagle/Jan-Michael StumpMadison Harrington, 6, examines the peace symbol she decorated during Peace Day activities in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day at the Great Lakes Children’s Museum in Traverse City. The museum offered activities and readings that highlighted the work of Dr. King, with themes of peace and acceptance.



TRAVERSE CITY — Eight-year-old Yasmin Alfonseca recalled with ease the message behind a book she heard while planted on a colorful, cushy mat at the Great Lakes Children’s Museum.

The book, “It’s Okay to be Different” by Todd Parr, had a fundamental message.

“It’s ok to be different because it doesn’t matter whatever you look like, it matters what’s inside,” Yasmin Alfonseca said.

Yasmin, in third grade at Traverse Heights Elementary School, and her mother, Victoria Alfonseca, attended the museum’s Peace Day celebration to learn about Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy. Monday was Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the annual holiday celebrating his life as a nonviolent civil rights leader before he was assassinated in 1968.

King wanted to stop the unfair segregation between African Americans and white Americans, Yasmin Alfonseca said. He taught people how to change their communities and the world by organizing, motivating each other and doing what is right.

Yasmin Alfonseca is optimistic that change can still happen — she wants to follow King’s footsteps to band with others to stop the Enbridge Line 5 oil pipelines’ operation under the Straits of Mackinac.

There is a harmony to celebrating both science and peace, Great Lakes Children’s Museum Educator Anne Drake said. She flipped to a page from “The Peace Book,” also by Todd Parr, that read “Peace is keeping the water blue for all the fishes.”

Parr’s works were part of a collection of children’s books about diversity and King’s life from which Drake read during the museum’s Peace Day.

King’s groundbreaking civil rights work is an example of creating peaceful relationships among people, Drake said. His legacy can also show children how their decisions impact other people, animals and the earth. She said early exposure to those principles is important for young children growing up amid so much “craziness.”

“Peace is such a big concept that it embraces science, too,” Drake said.

Children milled about a set of special activities inspired by famous King quotes inside the museum. They decorated bookmarks printed with an excerpt from King’s famous 1963 “I Have A Dream” speech, played with a puppet display and crawled inside a shadowy refrigerator box that showed what a difference is made by even a small beam of light.

Drake’s favorite exhibit was more hands-on — a wheelchair children could practice maneuvering around the museum. The wheelchair was there to help children imagine living with a physical disability and hopefully take away a lesson about respect.

“The next time they see someone in a wheelchair, maybe they’ll be a little kinder or more understanding,” Drake said.

Yasmin Alfonseca took a turn in the wheelchair as she made her way through the Peace Day activities. She and her mother are regulars at the Great Lakes Children’s Museum, especially on holidays when school is closed and the pair want to find educational ways to spend their free days.

Peace Day was just what they were looking for. Victoria Alfonseca said it was important to have an event that teaches children to embrace social progress and respect their differences. It’s an especially vital program in Traverse City, a largely homogenous community that is about 95 percent white, according to 2015 census estimates.

“When we’re showing them at an early age, it’s definitely building a good foundation for the future,” Victoria Alfonseca said.



 Spalla and Noelle listen to story

·         Record-Eagle/Jan-Michael Stump

Record-Eagle/Jan-Michael StumpDan Spalla and his daughter Noelle, 3, listen to Volunteer and Events Coordinator Mindy McCutcheon read a book during Peace Day activities.

Willow peace star

·         Record-Eagle/Jan-Michael Stump

Record-Eagle/Jan-Michael StumpWillow Baumann, 3, of Traverse City places a star she decorated during Peace Day activities in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day at the Great Lakes Children’s Museum in Traverse City.