Students Working Hard to Help Others ? Tumbler Ridge Elementary Students

It is not unusual for children to want to help other children. It is also not unusual for Jennifer Kennedy?s 5/6 class at Tumbler Ridge Elementary (TRE) to put the want into action. At the start of every school year, Kennedy talks to her class about who they can help and how. Now in her 7th year at TRE, Kennedy?s 5/6 class fund raising project has risen to a new level. The personal planning curriculum in grades 5/6 teaches students about social responsibility and the global village. In the past the 5/6?s focus was on organizations that would affect people closer to home. This year, they are going global.

Students have been able to raise approximately $2000 per year in the past. This is a lot of work and it usually takes the whole year to gather these funds. Some organizations that have benefited from students hard work and diligence are Sick Children?s Vancouver Hospital, the Cancer Camp through the BC Cancer institute, Child Amputees, and Grannies of Africa(through the Stephen Lewis Foundation).

One day, after seeing a documentary on the Stephen Lewis Foundation (which helps to ease the pain of HIV/AIDs in Africa a the grassroots level), Kennedy talked to her students about children their age in Africa. She explained to them that not all students can go to school, whether it be a financial burden to the family or perhaps because there is no school to attend. She also talked about how things they take for granted like food, shelter and clothing are not so easy to come by in poor, struggling areas of the world. Her students were ?horrified with the extent of poverty in the world?, explained Kennedy. Her students felt the need to do more, they wanted to help children go to school. But how could they?

After researching organizations, Kennedy decided to work with World Vision Canada(WVC) for the 2007/08 year. ?It is a reputable organization, with a good track record?, said Kennedy. It is also a registered charitable organization.

WVC has been active for 50 years, the first WVC office opened in 1957 in Toronto. WVC is well known for their children sponsorship program and now they offer other gifts to purchase. Prices for these gifts vary. For $50 or under, you can buy 2 hens and rooster or supply a classroom with basic supplies. For $15,000, you can build a school. Kennedy said her students were excited to hear the possibility of building a school. It is something they connect with and they will understand the direct results of their project. It is also a gift that will give for many years. It is a lot harder for children to connect with buying goats or cows for a family or village. School is a big part of their lives and the students know if they can build a school, they can really make a difference. Kennedy explained that the school will be built where there is the greatest need, not necessarily in Africa.

Taking on a project of this magnitude means that Kennedy?s class can?t do it alone. Bruce Greengrass?s 5/6 class at TRE are joining in this year. With a total of 50 students, they are sure to be busy with several fund raising events. Cake walks, bake sales, candy guesses, raffles, toy sales school dances, recycling and delivering flyers have all worked in the past. Some favourites are the Apple Slot. ?The apple slot is a lot of fun?, said Kennedy. If you go buy rotten mushy apples and oranges, and whack at it with a stick or a bat, well that is an apple slot. Kennedy said it is fun for the kids to pay a quarter to take a try at it. By the end the kids are all messy! Another fund raiser that is very successful is their penny drive. It usually takes a couple weeks to count the pennies and the bank always needs to be notified when it is going to happen. This is so they can order in a lot more penny rollers and organize the truck to take the pennies to Dawson Creek. There is no room in the Lakeview Credit Union(Tumbler Ridge) to store over $800 worth of pennies!

The students will have to work even harder this year to raise the money. They will be reaching out to the entire community of Tumbler Ridge for support. You will soon get to know their faces as they will soon be offering their services for odd jobs (more information to come about this later). Kennedy also wants people to know that they can donate their clean recyclables for this project. There will be an account at the recycling depot and you can donate your refund to the account.

Also, Kennedy and Greengrass are planning on attending the Council meeting (with their students)on October 3rd. They are hoping to obtain a letter of support from Mayor and Council they will be able to use in their fund raising efforts.

Kennedy realizes this is a big step up from her last projects. The students want to make a difference in other children?s lives. They want to be able to connect with their project. Building a school will give them the connection they desire. Although this project falls under the personal planning curriculum, helping children realize their dream of attending school is better than an A+ any day.