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Compassionate City Newsroom


JCPS, Catholic, Independent Schools Focus on Compassion

Thursday February 7, 2013

Surrounded by school students of all ages, Louisville educators and city officials today celebrated the launching of “Youth Engaging Compassion”, a program to introduce, support and educate Louisville's youth to the values of compassion and guide them in putting compassion into action.

The program launch was at the Muhammad Ali Center, a partner in the project along with Jefferson County Public Schools, the Archdiocese of Louisville, Metro Government and other independent schools and organizations. The project aims to inspire youth to come up with ideas, projects, and activities that will raise their awareness to the importance of helping others.

The on-line curriculum support was developed by a volunteer work-group of local educators, administrators and interfaith workers led by Gray Henry, Amy Peterson and Robin Burke. The website www.YouthEngagingCompassion.org will also serve as an interactive platform where students can share their projects and stories of volunteering and helping others.

Modeled on similar initiatives used by school systems in New York and Seattle, Louisville's program will include a 'Compassion Checklist' -- a directory that matches the needs of local organizations with citizens wishing to help. In a pilot program, JCPS and independent schools in Louisville are focusing on identifying problems and practicing compassionate solutions at school and at home.

The checklist will also assist and inspire service opportunities for community-wide volunteerism throughout the year, including during Mayor Greg Fischer’s Give A Day week of service, April 13-21. Engaging with compassion is also the theme the Dalai Lama will be speaking to local school students about on May 21, during the three-day visit by His Holiness to Louisville.

“It is truly an honor to live in a city that has been recognized as an international compassionate city,” said Dr. Donna Hargens. “As the Superintendent of Jefferson County Public Schools, I am excited about providing our students with the opportunity to participate in the Compassion Checklist Project. It aligns with our district’s vision of providing opportunities for our students to contribute to our society throughout life.”

“Young people can show us the way on many issues including compassion with their energy, enthusiasm and fresh ideas,” Fischer said. “Adding a curriculum of caring and helping others in our schools will help Louisville truly be the world’s most compassionate city and we look forward to seeing students out helping others during Give A Day week and throughout the year.”

Later this year, Youth Engaging Compassion will be expanded into The Muhammad Ali Center Council of Students (MACCS) - Students from across the city can become 'Youth Ambassadors for Compassion' and will have an opportunity to join the MACCS program that promotes Muhammad Ali’s legacy with young people to inspire them to find their greatness within.

“The Muhammad Ali Center is proud to be recognized for the work we do in the community,” said Donald Lassere, president and CEO of the Center. “The Youth Engaging Compassion initiative resonates strongly with the Muhammad Ali Center, for being a compassionate person is a way of life for our founder, Muhammad Ali. And, the principles by which he lives his life are paramount to the growth, leadership, and service-learning opportunities of our Muhammad Ali Center Council of Students (MACCS). Having our MACCS be chosen as Youth Ambassadors for Compassion, affords them another opportunity to promote Muhammad’s core principles and the meaning of compassion to the community at large. The Youth Ambassadors for Compassion will undoubtedly create a better way of life for each of us.”

Thursday’s launch of the compassion initiative involved more than 150 students from public and independent schools in the Louisville area, with performances from The River City Drum Corps and The DePaul School Singers. Grasshoppers Distribution - real food from local farms to your table and Chef, Mark Williams, Slow Food USA, provided soup.