I have a student in my class, let’s call him Jake. He’s (secretly) one of my favourite students because he tends to see the glass half full and is grumpy in the most endearing way. He struggles socially and spends a lot of recesses with me as he says “I don’t have friends because my brain has a hard time making some”. He has big brown eyes and his shoe laces are always undone. Jake has a lot of anxiety issues and when I have a substitute at school, he’s so worried about me he works in counsellors office to help keep him calm. I try not to miss class because I know it’s hard on him but a few weeks ago I missed a day a to watch a speaker and I think Jake and I will both say it’s the best thing that’s ever happened to either of us.
I went to hear Craig Kielburger speak (in the link he’s in the brown shirt. He’s also the one posing with the Dali Lama, you know- just what you did when YOU WERE TWELVE YEARS OLD). It was a presentation I went to with friends and I honestly wasn’t expecting much. I had no idea who the guy was and all I was thinking about what the pesto chicken salad I wanted to eat for lunch after.
I could write a short novel on Craig Kielburger, but the short version is- he was a 12 year old kid who just happened to read an article one day in the paper about a child who was forced to work in a factor and the article made him angry. With the support of his teacher, he created a club with 11 of his classmates called Free The Children. The “club” grew and is now in 45 countries and has built 650 schools. More than 55,000 children receive education each day because of this charity. More than one million people have been provided with clean water, health care and sanitation; 30,000 women are economically self-sufficient; and $16 million in medical supplies have been shipped around the world. Domestically, Free The Children delivers innovative programming to more than 4,000 youth groups and hundreds of thousands of young people in Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom. (And yes, I just copied and pasted that whole bit from the website because it was just easier).
So, armed with this information and inspired by the idea that this all started with ONE CHILD who wanted to do something, I took the talk to my class. I didn’t push- I just explained what I saw, why I felt it was important and asked my students to think about the charity and if volunteering in some way was something they wanted to do. That was at 1:15pm. By 2:33pm, a group of students (including Jake) had created a presentation (at recess) and gave it to the class. When I asked Jake why he decided he wanted to help, he replied:
The students looked through the wide range of campaigns they could be a part of and picked the one that they felt would challenge them the greatest. They picked We Are Silent, a campaign designed to bring awareness to the more than 250 million child labourers who are forced to work without rights and are without a voice.
Cool idea for adults, not as easy with 27 ten year olds. I gently tried to persuade them to do a food bank program or penny drive but they insisted that because this would be the hardest one for them to accomplish- staying silent for 24 hours, that it was the one they HAD to do. And so we are doing it. On April 18th- my entire class will be silent. And I need your help (you knew that was coming, right?)
One of my favourite parts of this charity is that it was founded by a child and it’s almost entirely driven by students. I feel very strongly that children often do not ask for help to reach their goals because they are scared of an adult saying no. I see it happening all the time. So I was surprised when my class and I sat down to talk about our goal for the amount of money we could raise and they aimed for $300. It was a big chunk of change for a class where not everyone has a lunch and students cry when they get a Christmas gift. But they thought they could do it and guess what? They did.
They went door to door, they collected and rolled pennies. They set up soup can coin collectors at churches and asked neighbours. And as of today? We have raised $1227.47. Far exceeding our goal. On the last day before Spring Break, I gave them high fives and we talked about how proud they should be of themselves. And instead of wanting to talk about their success, they wanted to set a new goal. They didn’t talk about it in terms of money, they talked about it in terms of how many more lives they could change. They’ve learned that $25 provides someone with cleaning drinking water for life. Jake, (who usually sits out on class talks), raised his hand and said he thought we could help 80 people. When the students did the math and realized that was $2000, I heard a few kids gasp. But they voted and agreed, our new class goal is $2000.
So I need your help. In a big way. I want to show these kids that they CAN accomplish this goal and that by asking for help that they can get it. I want them to see that they can reach their dreams and that good people will help good people armed with a dream. I want them to believe that they can set a big, outlandish goal and if they are dedicated, that it can happen. I want to show Jake that the glass can be half full. I promised them that I would ask everyone I know to help, so here I am with my humble plea- could you help donate to our cause?
The money raised will go towards our goal of helping 80 people have clean water for life. Any money above that will go directly to the charity. There are different ways to give- you can mail a cheque (email me and I will give you my school address), or you can send a donation to paypal (brandyismagicatgmaildotcom). If you DO use paypal and your donation is $10 or more, please email me your address so I can fill out a form for you to get a tax receipt. I would REALLY appreciate anything you can donate. If you can or do donate, please let me know in comments so I can send you an email personally to thank you and send you the squishiest, love filled email possible. And if donating isn’t in the cards? No problem. Just share this post with as many people as possible to get the word out. $25 can change a life. I spend that much on magazines each month at the grocery store.
And if that isn’t enough reason, know that our favourite President supports this campaign: