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Mercy Corps Action Center

United States, October 1, 2009

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Marie Sherlock

Metro Parent
October, 2009

Inspiring our children to make the world a better place

Did you know that:

1. More than a billion people around the world live on little more than a dollar a day?
2. 16,000 children die every day from hunger-related causes – one every five seconds?
3. The number of AIDS orphans in southern Africa is expected to reach 18 million in 2010 alone?

These are the kind of statistics that Mercy Corps is trying to change. Their new Action Center is poised to help them do just that.

The center is part of Mercy Corps’ new global headquarters building, opening at 45 SW Ankeny on Oct. 9. At the center, visitors will get a hands-on educational experience, learning what daily life is like for people around the globe suffering from hunger, poverty and conflict. They’ll learn about the root causes of poverty and where the greatest poverty-related challenges are worldwide. And they’ll hear about potential solutions, elicited from aid workers, local residents and government officials.

But the experience doesn’t end there – after all, it’s called an Action Center. Visitors will also decide what they’ll actually do to fight poverty; they can browse through a database listing hundreds of potential activities. The center’s representatives liken the Action Center to OMSI – but, “whereas OMSI inspires an interest in science, the Mercy Corps Action Center inspires a passion for making the world a better place.”

Mercy Corps expects 70,000 visitors to the center annually; middle and high school students will make up the primary audience. Working closely with local school districts, the Action Center will welcome class visits and provide teachers with curricula that prepare students for what they’ll learn at the center. The center is a cornerstone of Mercy Corps’ Global Engagement Initiative which focuses specifically on young people. “We’re helping young people today become the citizens and leaders the world will need tomorrow,” says Mercy Corps communications officer Caitlin Carlson.

Now that’s making a difference.

If you go: Opening weekend for the Mercy Corps Action Center is Oct. 9 and 10. On Oct. 9 there will be an open house from 11 am to 2 pm. On Oct. 10, the Center will hum with family-friendly activities from 10 am to 5 pm including African dance and drumming, a creative design workshop and a Rock For Action Concert (2 to 5 pm). The Center is open for regular hours beginning Oct. 13: 11 am to 6 pm Tuesday through Friday, 10 am to 5 pm Saturday and 11 am to 4:30 pm Sunday. Visit www.actioncenter.org to confirm all details. Go to www.mercycorps.org for more information about Mercy Corps.