Manitoulin Secondary School’s S.H.A.R.E. Committee has realized its vision of building a school in Sierra Leone, raising an impressive $8,500 for the Free the Children Brick-by-Brick campaign.
“This is a wonderful way to cap off another successful year at Manitoulin Secondary School and I certainly commend staff and students for their outstanding achievement,” says Trustee Larry Killens.
“Rainbow District School Board has made education for sustainable development a priority,” says Director of Education Jean Hanson. “Education for sustainable development is about creating a world where everyone has the opportunity to benefit from education and learn the values, behaviours and lifestyles required to achieve sustainability and build a just, humane, democratic and respectful society. Manitoulin Secondary School, with the support of Principal Laurie Zahnow, students and staff, is a shining example of how we are supporting global thinking at a local level.”
S.H.A.R.E., which stands for Students Helping All ‘Round Everywhere, has been raising money and awareness for some time now. “The Sierra Leone project, the committee’s most ambitious goal to date, has been a labour of love for the past two years,” says Principal Zahnow. “Staff and students are feeling a tremendous sense of accomplishment knowing that their efforts will have an impact in one of the poorest areas of the world.”
The vision to build a school in Sierra Leone began in June 2007 when members of the committee participated in a youth forum presented by the Social Planning Council of Sudbury. After hearing keynote speaker Craig Kielburger, the committee was inspired to attend the first National Me to We Day the following October. Soon after, they pledged to dedicate their efforts to bringing the gift of education to children in need.
Fundraising quickly began and continued throughout the 2007-2008 school year with bake sales, ice cream sales, a movie night and concessions. The committee raised $950 for the Brick-by-Brick campaign and also supported the Nelson Mandela Children’s Charity, raising $750 with a very successful walk-a-thon.
In the spring of 2008, S.H.A.R.E. Committee members Janelle Addison and Vanessa Glasby attended the Rainbow District School Board’s Go Green Youth Conference, which focused on education for sustainable development. Four committee members were also invited by Free The Children to attend a special leadership workshop in Toronto where they had an opportunity to meet Marc Kielburger. They returned with more enthusiasm than ever.
Vanessa and Janelle decided to continue fund raising over the summer with three new initiatives. They invited local businesses in Gore Bay to collect change in Free the Children jars as part of the Give Change to Make Change campaign. They did yard work, carried groceries and helped out any way they could.
They also got creative and sold their hand-made bracelets. That summer, Vanessa and Janelle set a personal goal to raise $300. They doubled their target!
When classes resumed last fall, the two ambitious students were elected Co-Presidents of the S.H.A.R.E. Committee. They continued to lead Manitoulin Secondary School into another year of global thinking at a local level, raising funds and ongoing awareness.
The Committee spearheaded the Give Change to Make Change Homeroom Challenge; set up a donation page on the web; attended a second Me to We Day in Toronto; attended the local Roots & Shoots conference; organized another Halloween for Hunger canned food drive, hosted their first S.H.A.R.E. Care Day Care at Manitoulin Secondary School’s Christmas Craft Show; sold Valentine Candy Grams; participated in the Vow of Silence; attended the Envirothon event and joined together in Celebrate for Change.
The committee also helped two local families who lost everything in two separate house fires this year. Hat days were held to raise funds for both families in need.
“The money was raised by students in Grades 9 to 12,” says teacher Chantal Desbiens, who oversees the committee along with teacher Willa Mallea. “The students have learned that working in a committee and raising funds has its challenges,” she says. “They also learned that the efforts of a few can make a big difference.”
Only 30 students participated in Vow of Silence, a campaign to raise money and awareness for children who do not have a voice.
They collected over $1,080 in pledges. Over $1,040 was collected through Celebrate for Change with only 25 students raising money. The Give Change to Make Change Homeroom Challenge resulted in more than $1,500 through the donation of spare change.
“The S.H.A.R.E. Committee is gaining momentum and inspiring students to take part in continued efforts to support Free The Children,” says Desbiens. “Their next commitment is to raise $5,000 to build a well.”
She adds: “They have proven that they are up to the challenge.
They will continue to live by one of their favourite sayings – “Where your talents and the needs of the world cross, lies your calling.” Aristotle