In 2006, Will Fazan, vice-principal at Shuswap Middle School, met with a committee of students from each of our middle and secondary schools. They spent a year researching charities to decide the focus for our district. This group chose to work with "Free the Children" a charity who believe we make the biggest difference "For Youth, By Youth." The committee strongly believed that it was important to contribute not just globally, but also to support the needs in each of our local communities.
Now, with seven years of work, local students have raised over $106,000 to help others!
In our 2015-16 District Student Achievement Growth Plan, our goal is to raise a total of $150,000 in the next five years. The District Student Me to We Leadership Committee, comprised of students from every middle and secondary school, distributes the funds to Free the Childrenâ€™s adopt a village program (in Sierra Leone, Kenya and Ghana), and a variety of local projects which assist the communities in our district.
Schools apply to the committee for funding to support projects in their hometowns which make a difference locally.
In the first four years, our students and staff have raised over $42,000 to support Free the Children's Adopt A Village program as well as support a number of local projects. We built a Junior Secondary School in Sukudo, Sierra Leone, and completely adopted the village in Sierra Leone by funding a Clean Water Project, an Alternative Income Project and a Health Care Project. Once we finished the village in Sierra Leone, we moved our efforts to Kenya where we have completed a school and are now working on projects to support the school.
One year a local focus was to support the Aboriginal students in our district. The district worked with Me to We to provide the Sacred Circle Leadership Training progam to build confidence and leadership skills in our Aboriginal students throughout the district. In addition, individual schools continue to participate in a wide range of activities in their own communities including; supporting local food banks through food donations, knitting scarves and tuques for homeless people, and becoming involved and aware of their own local needs so that they can make a positive difference.
In Spring Break 2013, 25 students from across our district travelled to Ghana to build a school in the village of Asemkow. Students there attend school only in kindergarten and grade 1. Our group worked on the classroom to enable grade 2 students to attend school.
â€śDespite the 39 degree heat and humidity, our students requested extra shifts at the build site, and were overwhelmed by the joy of the children who worked alongside the group; children who, despite poverty, lack of clean drinking water, power, or nutrition, find joy in every day,â€ť says previous Director of Instruction Wendy Woodhurst, who was on the trip.
During Spring Break 2015, students from our middle and secondary schools travelled to rural China to work on Free the Childrenâ€™s â€śAlternative Incomeâ€ť pillar. The children in Gufuboa have a school to attend up to grade 3, and clean water from previous Free the Children projects. Our group worked on a goat pen which will hold 1,000 goats and enable the villagers to become self sustaining. Once again, our students represented our district in an exemplary fashion.
â€śWe were amazed by the depth of the discussions, and the passion that our students have to continue to make a difference in the world,â€ť comments organizer Lisa Coombs-Smith.
â€śOur district was well represented by these students, and we can all be proud of their maturity, compassion, and work ethic.â€ť
During a weekend retreat in June 2015, the District Student Me to We Leadership Committee researched several countries and after much deliberation, decided to work with Free the Children in Ecuador. Students interested in travelling to the Free the Children build site in Ecuador and working with the villagers during Spring Break of 2017 can contact Lisa Coombs-Smith at Highland Park Elementary 250 546-8723 for further information.
The district student leadership committeeâ€™s main fundraising vehicle is Toonie Tuesday . . . a day when all students and adults in the school district are encouraged to donate $2 towards helping others. Toonie Tuesday occurs each October. Proceeds will go towards supporting our newest village, which is in Ecuador, as well as to local community projects.
We Schools in Action Report
Have you ever wondered about the impact of students participating in We Day? Last school year (2011-12) young people around the world collected 833,648 pounds of food for food banks and volunteered 1.8 million hours of community service! Read the executiv