In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day coming up this Monday, January 16, the Kansas City Chiefs and linebacker Shawn Barber hosted 25 fifth-grade students from Stony Point North Elementary at the Arrowhead Stadium Sports Lab this past Tuesday.
Barber and Chiefs community correspondent Jillian Carroll led a discussion on the civil rights activist.
“[Tuesday] was a great culmination of just bringing together the community, some young students and the Chiefs Ambassadors program, which is part of the Chiefs’ community caring team,” Barber said. “Any time you get a school day off, I think all kids are happy that they get a day out of school, but you have to understand the importance behind it.
“You have to understand the ‘why’ and the facts, so that it’s not just a hollow holiday. Martin Luther King did so many great things, not just for school-age kids, but for the United States of America, bringing forth the topic of equality.”
Barber and Carroll read the storybook, “I Have a Dream,” to the students.
Stony Point North Elementary physical education teacher Ray Lipovac explained what he felt the event could mean to his classes.
“I think it’s going to have a great impact on their lives,” he said. “In the future, they’re going to look back and on all the things they did as fifth-graders and they’ll remember this day. Hopefully, they can apply some of the teachings of Martin Luther King, his relationships with others, what he stood for, what he fought for and the laws that were changed to their lives.”
That message, Barber explained, was only enhanced by the session being held at Arrowhead Stadium.
“Arrowhead is a fixture in the Kansas City area – it’s what Kansas City is about,” he said. “These kids are brought up with sports in their blood, and to hear ex-players speak so passionately about Martin Luther King and civil rights, I think it just adds an emphasis to what’s going on in their lives.
“It’s about letting them know that even ex-professional athletes and Chiefs Ambassadors will spend a day listening to you, listening to your thoughts and your passions—just having an autograph signing and shaking some hands is not what it’s about. It’s the connection and about letting kids know that not only do we care about them, we love them and we want their futures to be their priority.”