LOUISVILLE, KY–The Muhammad Ali Center announced today the global launch of â€˜Muhammad Ali Center Peace Gardensâ€™ to teach children how to build gardens as a way to learn about respect for diverse cultures and nutrition. Yum! Brands Foundation is underwriting the initiative as part of its World Hunger Relief effort, helping children in underprivileged areas learn to grow their own food with plants from different countries.
The initiative is based on a highly successful pilot conducted by the John F. Kennedy Montessori Elementary School based in Louisville, Ky. The teacher-led project helped nearly 600 diverse, pre-school to Grade 5 students, from Asia, South America, Russia, Cuba, the U.S. and more, learn how to build multicultural gardens with plants from different countries, grow food and learn respect for different cultures. Children participated in all aspects of the garden including planting, nurturing, harvesting, cooking and donating food to the hungry.
Lonnie Ali, co-founder of the Muhammad Ali Center, said, â€œMuhammad and I believe that the Peace Gardens initiative can, in the Centerâ€™s name, truly bring together youth of diverse cultures in a unique and universal way. This is a â€˜greenâ€™ undertaking that we believe will take root and generate a bounty of positive results for cross-cultural understanding among youth around the world,â€ said Ali.
â€œThe Muhammad Ali Centerâ€™s core mission is to make a positive difference in the world by fostering respect for humanity and inspiring personal growth,â€ said Greg Roberts, President of the Muhammad Ali Center based in Louisville, Ky. â€œThe â€˜Muhammad Ali Center Peace Gardensâ€™ program will sow the seeds of cultural respect by teaching children how to build gardens with plants from different countries,â€ said Roberts.
â€œThe â€˜Muhammad Ali Center Peace Gardensâ€™ are part of Yum! Brands efforts to help end hunger through our annual World Hunger Relief campaign that kicks off this week with multi-Grammy Award winner Christina Aguilera as global spokesperson.,â€ said Jonathan Blum, Chief Public Affairs Officer, Yum! Brands, Inc. â€œAbout one billion people are going hungry today and many of them are children. The â€˜Muhammad Ali Center Peace Gardensâ€™ will help teach children how to grow food, feed themselves and others in need,â€ said Blum.
â€œWe are thrilled to see that what started as our schoolâ€™s desire to teach children how to grow food and foster culture sensitivity has turned into an example for other schools around the world,â€ said Opal Davis Dawson, Principal, John F. Kennedy Montessori Elementary School based in Louisville, Ky. â€œWe thank the Muhammad Ali Center and Yum! Brands Foundation for their support in leveraging the multicultural garden on a global scale. This day would not have been possible without our continued belief in the importance of school diversity,â€ said Dawson.
Educators around the world will now be able to access the â€˜Muhammad Ali Center Peace Gardensâ€™ model program including a free downloadable teacher curriculum guide and grant application forms by visiting: www.alicenter.org; www.yum.com; www.mypeacegarden.com and www.garden.org. The curriculum includes a case study based on the John F. Kennedy school success model, tips to planning and planting the garden, plus information on nutrition and nature. The grant application deadline is January 5, 2011 and recipients will be notified by the first week of April 2011. Two-hundred worldwide grants will be awarded over a four-year period. The National Gardening Association, a recognized leader in the field, is providing assistance with curriculum development and grant process.
Mike Metallo, President of the National Gardening Association says about the program, â€œWe are delighted to be a partner with the Muhammad Ali Center and Yum! Brands to bring this opportunity to the world. Youth gardening programs represent a tremendous opportunity for children to understand and explore different cultures. We are excited to be part of this global effort for peace education through school gardens.â€