Roslyn: Fight for Freedom
By Lysanne Abelardo
"Fight For Freedom," yelled the students as they raised their hands together in a cheer. This triumphant moment is how the Grades 3 and 4 students from room 114 at Roslyn Elementary School in Westmount wrap up every weekly meeting for their fight against poverty.
This remarkable moment began when a couple of my students got together one day and questioned the meaning of poverty and its existence in our world. After discussing its meaning, they realized the importance of helping people in need and they knew that they had to take part in ending world poverty and in saving human lives. Students Sierra Giustini and Elizabeth Miechkota approached their parents for adult support with this project. Parents Debbi Jardine, Rebecca Lee, and Brooke Miechkota proposed to make this into a class project and eventually a school project. As the teacher of class 114, I believed that this ambitious mission would be a unique learning experience where my students would achieve great pride and a sense of fulfillment. I eagerly supported this wonderful cause and the worthwhile experience it would bring to my students. As the project was presented to the class, I watched my students’ eyes light up with enthusiasm, inspired to make a difference in the world. “Fight for Freedom!" they all cheered at the end of their first meeting. Project “Fight for Freedom: Our Fight Against Poverty” was born.
Weekly meetings were held, where they discussed many ways on how they could help fight poverty. Their awareness of poverty was raised and they were introduced to several campaigns and networks that work to end poverty. They were all determined to make a significant difference in their world. They began by visiting the website www.freerice.com, which is a sister site of the world poverty site poverty.com. Its goal is to fight world poverty through the teaching of English vocabulary. They do this by asking visitors the definitions of certain words and, for each question that is answered correctly, they donate 20 grains of rice through the UN World Food program. My students visited this site weekly and in the process of doing so, learned many new words, and have raised a total of 207,470 grains of rice so far.
They then developed an idea called “Net-working” to raise money to fight the horrible disease of Malaria in Africa. Special bed-nets covered in insecticide defend sleeping children against the bites of disease-carrying mosquitoes. For every $10.00 dollars they raise, one bed net is purchased and donated (through Spread the Net and UNICEF) to a family in Africa. In order to make this fundraiser personally meaningful to each student, my class asked all Roslyn students to do an individual chore in exchange for a donation of $2 to $5. Their goal was to raise $500 to purchase 50 bed-nets. I am pleased to say that their goal has been attained!
The next phase of their Fight for Freedom project is called “Springtime at Roslyn." During their weekly Fight for Freedom meetings, the students from class 114 came up with many ideas on how to raise the money. They finally decided to sell potted spring flowers with their artwork on tags attached to pots for 5.00$ each. They worked hard on their springtime drawings and worked as a team to attach the tags on the flowerpots. Together they have decided to use the money raised to support Free the Children (freethechildren.com), the world’s largest organization of children helping children through education. The primary goals of this organization are to free children from poverty and exploitation and teach young people that they can effect positive change in the world. Specifically they decided to support the educational program aspect of Free the Children’s “Adopt a Village” campaign. This program provides all the necessary tools and resources for effective learning and health care services for children living in poverty. Finally, class 114 invited representative Gab Desmond from Free the Children to educate and to inspire all Roslyn students about thecharity.
Throughout this journey, I watched the Fight for Freedom project develop into a significant mission driven by the energy of young leaders and their parent supporters. The students of class 114 worked with enthusiasm, worked cooperatively, and displayed remarkable compassion—all in order to make a difference for families they did not even know. This is an experience they, nor I, will certainly never forget, and one they should certainly be proud of!!!