We have a group of superstars blazing their way towards a world free of poverty and exploitation at St. Ann School in Bridgeport, Connecticut! Over the past five years, the entire student body has found unique ways for every student to learn about social issues around the world and participate in fundraisers to support Free The Children’s Adopt a Village program in Haiti and Kenya. Through the guidance of the school’s administrator, Theresa Tillinger, and educator, Dawn Pilotti, educators are encouraged to find individual ways to incorporate social issues into their classes. And there are many.
At St. Ann, students are given the liberty to dream up their own fundraisers and, as long as they have a well thought out plan, are given the support of the school. This has strengthened the creativity, organization and cohesiveness of the students as they unite towards a great cause.
So what have the students accomplished? The list is a long one:
- Hundreds of pounds of food have been collected for local food pantries through the ‘We Scare Hunger’ campaign.
- Student representatives have traveled by car, bus and train to Toronto two years in a row to attend WE Day Toronto, having competed in a school-wide speech competition for one of the coveted tickets. The competition is already underway for tickets to WE Day Seattle – Free The Children’s first WE Day in the United States.
- Older students are mentoring the younger ones through unified campaigns like ‘We are Silent.’ In the 2011/2012 academic year, over 90% of students in the school participated in the campaign – including the kindergarten students!
- Students have walked dozens of miles during their annual water walk, bringing awareness to the community about the issue of the lack of clean water facing millions around the world.
- Raised over $20,000 for Free The Children’s Adopt a Village program through lemonade stands, bake sales, designing and selling t-shirts, selling birdseed at garden events, dress-down days, selling jewelry made out of recycled bottle caps made by the students holding used toy, book sales and holiday cupcake sales.
- Locally, the students have also been incredibly active. Activities have included volunteering regularly at the local food pantry, collecting toiletries for a local home for homeless and single mothers, shoe and winter-coat collections for the homeless during the winter months, caroling in a local pediatric ward so that sick children don’t feel so lonely over the holidays, dress in pink and raise money for breast cancer awareness, honouring Malala – the girl from Afghanistan who was recently targeted for her support of girls education – through creative awareness raisers, hot chocolate sales to support the Hurricane Sandy relief efforts, and much, much more.
And it doesn’t stop there. The students who trekked to WE Day Toronto were eager to bring back our newest campaign, We Create Change. The students have a goal of collecting $25 in pennies for every student in the school. They are working hard to collect over 250,000 pennies before the end of the year and are well on their way: 95,692 have already been collected!
What inspires us at Free The Children about the St. Ann School community is that they have found an incredible balance of learning about important social issues, empowering students to take the lead on fundraisers and awareness raisers and having a great time while they do it! Students are building friendships with others within the school and come together in celebration when they reach their goals. And we love celebrating right alongside them!
Learn more about how you can get your school involved with Free The Children and WE Day. Visit http://www.weday.com/what-is-we-day/