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If you ever wondered if a child at the age of 8 could create change in the world your answer is in this story.
Pauline Johnson School in West Vancouver was the first to join the 365give Challenge as a pilot program. Their 10 weeks of giving is now complete and the results have been remarkable. You will read in this guest post by Lindsay Storry, grade 2 teacher, how one class can create social good in just 5 days.
“Part of what I have enjoyed most about being a part of this great project has been the enthusiasm of the students as they work so well together to accomplish our class goals. Although our Gives have always aimed to benefit other people, animals, or the environment, the benefits that we have gained in return are, in my opinion, immeasurable! Hopefully these experiences will translate into lifelong giving, in some capacity or another, for the students. In the meantime the students are keen to do more and were quick to point out that we still have another 3 months left in Grade 2 that could be put to good use as far as giving. So while the 365Give Challenge has officially come to a close, it sounds like the students are keen to keep going. And having witnessed all of their passion, enthusiasm, excitement, and teamwork, I won’t be the one to stand in their way of changing the world, one give at a time!”
Day 1 – Animal Awareness Video
We had some great discussions around endangered animals and the fair and equitable treatment of animals which acted as a spring board for our first Give. The students had wanted to build animal awareness in the school community and beyond by creating a video. I have given the students creative license to make this video as they see fit, with only a few guidelines: the students will work cooperatively in a group of their choosing, and they must create a video that has an educational message. However they choose to go about relaying their message is up to them! Today we spent time planning things out in our groups, as well as working on the computers to create some props. We have some groups who will be acting out their message, and others who will take a journalist approach, but all the students have been highly engaged and working well together.
Day 2 – Clean up at Dundarave
On this gorgeous sunny day, we set out on a lovely walk through the community on our way down to Dundarave Beach to do our clean-up. Mr. Hugh Hamilton, an experienced and knowledgeable volunteer with the local Stream Keepers organization, met us there and taught us all so much about how valuable and important this work is to the local environment. We learned that the beach must be clean in order for the smelt to lay their eggs, and the ocean must be clean so that the fry have a comfortable environment to hide in while they prepare to swim out to sea. The students had a fabulous time exploring along the sea shore and discovering as many interesting creatures as they did garbage! The students were highly engaged and had so much fun – it was tough to tear them away at the end of the day! It is clear that on a day like this, there is no better classroom than the great outdoors!
Day 3 – Low-Impact Day
The students decided that they wanted to do another give for the environment, but this time they chose a different format. The students chose a low-impact day at school whereby we do our best not to use any electricity, which includes all electronic devices. With the sun shining, the classroom was still well lit, and the students barely noticed that the lights were not on. However, we quickly discovered that our regular classroom routine was slightly interrupted with a lack of electricity, and thus no internet connection. When doing the calendar routine in the morning, we had to go outside to check a thermometer in order to know the temperature. When students asked me the translation of a particular word in French, we had to use a dictionary to do our search, rather than an iPad. And some of our favourite activities like dance breaks weren’t possible at all!
At the end of the day we discussed how the students felt about being “unplugged”. Most found it quite easy with very little adjustment, while others lamented the fact that there was no music or use of technology. Truthfully, I think that I was the one who had the hardest time being un-plugged all day! It was a good lesson for us all!
Day 4 – Saying “Thanks” to the firefighters
As soon as the bell rang we headed off on a walk to our local West Vancouver fire hall. We met Firefighter Dan who greeted us and invited us in. He introduced us to Firefighter Jeff who was busy sweeping and explained that each day they have various chores to do in order to keep the hall in tip top shape, just like the firefighters. And then all of the sudden the alarm went and he jumped into action, putting his gear on, and running out to the fire truck – they were off to an emergency! Luckily, Marcia, was available to chat with us about fire safety…all in French! When it was time to leave we presented the Chief with our three bags of freshly baked cookies and thanked him for the service of his fire department. He promised to relay our message to the firemen who had been called out on an emergency, and to share the cookies too! Just as we were saying our goodbyes, Firefighter Dan came back in time for us to present him with the cookies! He seemed quite pleased, and the kids were excited too as they walked away with tattoos and key chains.
Day 5 – Sale: Popcorn and school supplies
The students have been gearing up all week for this sale and many had been predicting that this would be their favourite Give of all! We already had a bag full of school supplies to put out, and a couple bags of popcorn. The morning was spent in groups preparing for the sale as we needed to decide on prices and mark each item accordingly. We needed to make signs that advertise the items for sale, as well as where to line up to make your purchases. The morning flew by and the students were a flurry of cooperative activity – it was truly great to see! The students quickly learned that there’s a lot of math that goes into running a store. Albeit short, the small recess was our most successful as we raised $152 in 15 minutes! We raised another $30 at lunch (there really wasn’t much left to sell!). One of the students in the class also donated his birthday money to the cause, so we managed to raise a grand total of $252 for Change Heroes!!!
It just goes to show that an enthusiastic bunch of Grade 2 students can make anything happen!
A very special thank you to Lindsay Storry and her class for making such a positive impact on the world. Your week of giving was truly inspiring.
change the world one day at a time.
Do we really need to educate our children on how to do social good?
Isn’t it more important they learn the basics like reading, math and science?
The research has been clear. Teaching your children to give will have lasting benefits including:
- Improved health
- Reduced stress
- Depression is reduce
- Increase in social well-being
- Increase in grade point averages
- Reduces Bullying
What if altruism could in fact be woven into the fabric of a students education without sacrificing other subjects that are vitally important? What if giving could be part of a teachers regular daily lesson plan?
Lindsay Story, teacher of a grade 2 class at Pauline Johnson School did just that by incorporating The 365give Challenge into her class this past week. Pauline Johnson has embrace the 365give Challenge over the past 5 weeks creating an environment of kindness and altruism at the school. Lindsay’s weekly journal of her classes daily giving will answer the question “How Do You Educate Students to Do Social Good?”
Our chance to participate in our first week of giving as part of the 365Give Challenge was fast approaching. We had been waiting in anticipation and cheering on other classes as they got the project up and running. The week of February 10th -14th was designated as our first week of giving. The students have been submitting ideas to the “Giving Jar” we created for weeks and we started to discuss which ideas might be the most feasible. Today we voted as a class to decide which “Gives” we’re going to do for our first of 2 weeks of giving. We tried to choose “Gives” that will benefit people, animals, and the environment, or a combination of all three!
Day 1: Personal Give
Monday was our Family Day holiday, the students were responsible for choosing a“Give” on their own, or with their family, to fulfil on that day. Some of the ideas students came up with were:
- walking a neighbour’s dog, or going to the SPCA to see if they could volunteer to walk one of the dogs.
- helping with household chores, cooking, grocery shopping, etc…without being asked!
- helping an elderly person in the family, or on the street, carry grocery bags or assist walking across the street etc.
The students were responsible for recording this “Give” with a photo to be sent in for The 365give Challenge book.
Day 2: Hay Park Clean-Up
The students were keen to pick up garbage in the school playground. Since the school playground has been cleaned up in previous 365give Challenge weeks, we thought we would try somewhere different. We walked from the school to Hay Park to pick up any garbage in our 2nd “Give” of the week. We chose this “Give” in order to benefit the local environment, animals, and community. We were pleased to find very little garbage in the park, but we had to stop quite a bit en route to and from the school in order to clean up the side walks and the streets.
World Cancer Day was on February 4th, and we have been touched by cancer in our class, so the students wanted to do something to help those fighting cancer. Kids with cancer spend a considerable amount of time in pajamas while undergoing treatment. PJs with a Purpose is a fun and educational event that allows students to help those kids. Today was another big success as we arrived at school wearing our pajamas for our 3rd “Give” of the week. The students did a great job of explaining to others in the hallways and on the playground why we were all dressed in our pajamas that day. We even had students make an announcement to the whole school over the PA system so the word spread quickly! PJs with a Purpose aims to build awareness around paediatric cancer, as well as funds and we did exactly that! At the end of the day we counted together all the money we raised and the students were pleased that we raised $112.50 for Team Finn. Our goal was to make it over $100 and we accomplished our goal!
Day 4: Healthy Biscuits for Animals in Need
Today was the 100th Day at school. We wanted to plan a “Give” that would incorporate our theme of 100! The students decided that together we could make 100 dog biscuits to be donated to a rescue centre in North Vancouver. It was the highlight of the day making our dog treats for the “Cross Our Paws Rescue Centre”. Once the kids started, they couldn’t stop, and in the end we counted 200 treats in all! We have made a few different flavours that we hope the dogs will enjoy – Terrific Turkey Stew, Scrumptious Sweet Potato, and Peanut Butter Pumpkin! We used our math skills as we measured the ingredients, and we were all involved in stirring and making the dough. Once the dough was ready, each student received a ball of dough to work with and the task of creating 5 biscuits. The students were very excited and they each made as many treats as possible. We have some hearts, stars, dog bones and some special surprises too. We’re pretty sure the rescued dogs will appreciate our hard work, but I think the students will also remember how much fun we had!
Day 5: Valentine’s Cards for Seniors
We all know that Friday February 14th is Valentine’s Day so it only makes sense that we plan our “Give” around this special day. I got the sense that the students were most thrilled about our trip to the West Vancouver Senior Centre to hand out our handmade Valentine’s Day cards and some chocolates as our final “Give” for this first week of The 365Give Challenge. The kids sang on the way down to the centre and I could tell that we were all full of happiness as we embarked upon our last “Give” of the week. The students entered the centre respectfully and walked around looking for a senior to present a card or chocolate to. I have never seen a group of people so thrilled to receive us, their faces lit up with big smiles, and many wanted to pass on a hug in return. The students had expressed a strong desire to do something that would benefit the seniors in our community, and I have no doubt that we hit the jackpot! We met friends who were playing card games, and others who were watching the Olympics. We met a group of men who were playing pool, and a group of women who were creating beautiful quilts. The students passed out their cards and their chocolates to different strangers and wished them a “Joyeux Saint Valentin” and a “Happy Valentine’s Day”. Many students were keen to continue introducing themselves even after their cards and chocolates were given away, and some asked to have their picture taken. The whole experience truly warmed my heart and many of the students expressed that this was their favourite “Give” of the week. One little one expressed that we had saved the best for last, and I can’t help but agree!
I hope that you all have enjoyed hearing about our 365give journey as much as we have enjoyed planning, preparing, and carrying out our “Gives”. I have felt a tremendous sense of community in the class as we have all worked together to accomplish our goals. It has also been a pleasure to witness students thinking about people, animals, and the environment, with more compassion and empathy. I hope that you have also seen this in your child at home! I think it’s safe to say that we’re all looking forward to our next special week of giving with The 365Give Challenge!
A very special thank you to Lindsey and her class for making such a
positive impact on the world. You week of giving was truly inspiring.
“Sometimes the strength of Motherhood is greater than natural laws” - Barbara Kingsoliver
There are lists and lists of things to get “Mom” for Mother’s Day but this story is truly the #1 greatest gift any Mom could ask for – her life. This is the story of a Mother’s life that was saved by love, hard work, hope and one big miracle. A few months ago I shared a story of a Mother in desperate need of help from the world. (One Match to Save a Mother’s Life) Myy dear friend Erica needed a bone marrow transplant to save her life. She had been diagnosed with a deadly case of leukaemia and was told she only had only months to live unless a bone marrow donor could be found.
This is her story. A story of being a Mom with two beautiful boys, a remarkable husband, a story of community, a story of hope and a story of the greatest gift a Mom could ever want.
The gift of life.
Guest Post by Erica Harris
When I was asked by Jacqueline (founder of 365give) to write a little synopsis of my journey in honour of this very special Mother’s Day, my mind instantly brought me back to my Mother’s Day celebration last year. The day started with a wonderful wake up, spoiled by drawings and wee surprises. And after a fun filled family brunch with the in laws, my oldest son, then 4, then took me on a “date” – we rode the bus in absolute glee and smiled away at an afternoon kids concert. Beautiful day, beautiful memories. Not once did I then consider what would arise in the weeks to come as even a distant possibility.
Last spring as I spent a fun morning at the aquarium with my boys, I picked up an urgent message regarding a relatively routine lab I had done hours earlier. Thinking there must be some confusion as my results couldn’t be in that quickly, I then learned I was to avoid all public places as my immune system was so comprised. My final diagnosis of acute leukemia came within a few short days. Hours following this, a bed was made available for me in the province’s Leukemia/Bone Marrow Transplant unit at Vancouver General Hospital.
I had no time to prepare myself, or my family for this huge upheaval. I embarked on my new path in shock and disbelief. For one so passionate about life, health and wellness this was just not within the realms of possibilities. My heart simply ached at the thought of being separated from my angels and not having any idea where to start explaining what had transpired and why mama would not be home.
I had no idea what was to lie ahead- the tubes, the machines, the surgeries, the days of isolation as a result of life threatening septic infections, the endless gut retching nausea, the frequent bone marrow biopsies, the exhausting night sweats, the ongoing blood transfusions, etc. What was assumed to be an original 3-4 week stay resulted in a full 2 month stay as the original chemotherapy proved unsuccessful. After I did not respond to what is referred to as “salvage” chemotherapy, I given a 2 month diagnosis, perhaps 6 months at best and offered no further treatment aside from palliative care. A second opinion in Seattle at one of the leading US leukaemia treatment centers confirmed the prognosis. So despite having had just received the amazing news that perfect 10/10 bone marrow donor was found on my behalf (after great efforts on behalf of One Match, the VGH team, my incredible husband and our amazing team of support who started their own missions to spread awareness), I learned the very next day it was an unattainable goal as I first had to be in remission to be eligible for transplant. After hearing this prognosis, I knew I just needed to be home with my family. I did just that- the team at VGH reluctantly discharged me the next morning. And with the strength of my 3 handsome loves by my side, I gained strength and “our fight” began.
On every step of this road, our family has been embraced by an amazing circle of love and support. Friends, family and and complete strangers sent messages of love and inspiration, devoted hours on our behalf to prayer, meditation, research on alternative approaches and leading health care providers in the field, cared for our babes, donated blood, prepared meals, shopped, and helped in any/every way possible. All of this paved the way to a very unexpected victory in ‘our fight”….and by the grace of God, the healing hands of my beautiful angel babes, the world’s best husband by my side, and our incredible team of support, my labs started to reflect some change and very slight optimism that at least the disease was not progressing at a rate that was originally anticipated. Another biopsy was scheduled and we learned I had attained remission.
Our head Doc said there was absolutely no explanation he could offer aside from saying it was a true miracle.
I was then eligible for transplant, which I had at the end of October. Although I am still on a rather bumpy road while adapting an entirely new immune system from an unrelated superstar donor, I am now moving full steam ahead and getting stronger every day. I am not yet off this big detour but I get to be here to be the first to greet my angels when they wake and the last to kiss them goodnight.
I am over the moon to be able to conquer most of my mama routines on most days.
As I picked up my oldest from kindergarten the other day, I stood from a far as I approached the field. He was running about laughing away with his friends, so enthralled in their game and so incredibly happy. I had tears of joy just being able to see this moment. As I stood there thinking how difficult it may soon be to tug him away from this fun for our trek home, he saw me from across the playground. Instantly, he sprinted towards me shouting to all with such excitement “there is MY Mom!” with his arms outstretched to dive into mine. My now 3 year old sets out on his daily missions to find mama treasured rocks, pine cones, or the prettiest weed of the day and shares them with me in the sweetest, highest pitched voice as he tells says he loves me soooo much. These slower days have welcomed so many quiet simple moments on the home front and these moments are true bliss. I thank God every day for my incredible blessings. My heart shines in ways I never imagined possible simply to hold their hands in mine.
This road has obviously been an unexpected lofty toll- from my husband not working for months on end to be my side, to additional child care costs, to the cost of uncovered medications and the countless supplements, to ensuring every nutrient consumed is of the highest quality, and the many expenses of fees incurred from professionals we sought along the way for many consults/treatments.
Jacqueline’s mission with 365give and her amazing compassion for those experiencing difficult times exemplifies such heartfelt surprises and blessings that have helped ease our path by so many ways. Further, Jacqueline spread the word about One Match registration instantly upon hearing the urgent need. The love, generosity, time and kindness that have been extended to us along the way will remain in our hearts on this very special upcoming mother’s day, and every day.
Happy, happy Mother’s Day to all!