Throughout my various experiences working with kids I’ve noticed one thing they almost all have in common: kids love animals. The site of anything from cute wide-eyed puppies, to crawling chameleons to majestic horses or even funny little hermit crabs gets a heart-felt ‘oooohhhh’ reaction from kids. Animals seem to be something in life that really unites children with feelings of empathy, awe, intrigue and caring.
Recently a few students in my class (ages 10 & 11) approached me about raising money for the Ontario SPCA to help animals that were affected by ring-worm. Although most of the animals had to be put down, the children wanted to do anything that could potentially help the few that were left or even help provide resources to help future animals. The students had a hand-written letter prepared to the Ontario SPCA explaining how they felt when they heard about the misfortune of the animals and how they wished to help.
When the students showed me their letter I was touched by their desire to make a difference. I listened to some of their ideas on how to raise money and decided to be their official ‘teacher-supervisor’ for their cause. It meant giving up many of my lunches and breaks, but fueling their intrinsic desire to help the world was worth my time and effort.
The students decided that they wanted to have a donation stand at our year-end school barbecue and offer hand-made bracelets, key chains and necklaces for a donation. Once I approved the idea, the excitement was evident and within a day I had almost half my class staying in at recess making all sorts of beaded accessories and preparing posters for the event. They led all the preparations almost entirely by themselves with just a few pointers from their teacher (me!).
On the day of the barbecue many people approached their colourful donation stand, curious to look through the variety of hand-made accessories that were so carefully laid-out and displayed by some of the wonderfully organized students in my class. The mathematically inclined students took care of the money while some of the enthusiastic dancers in my class decided to invent some cheers and dances to get the attention of passerby’s. With every person who approached the stand and donated some money, the students bubbled with excitement and pride. I couldn’t have been happier.
The students raised around $75, which to most adults may not be much, but to these young leaders, was most satisfying. We stayed in at recess one more day to count the money (not a bad way to integrate a math lesson in counting money) and then called the Ontario SPCA to tell them about our event. To my delight, the donations representative at the Ontario SPCA was thrilled about what the students had achieved and decided to mail individualized certificates to each one of the students. When the students received their certificate, their expressions of pride and joy were priceless.
My experience as a teacher is certainly highlighted by experiences such as this one. I believe that by supporting causes children truly care about, by listening to their ideas and allowing them to lead and organize their own initiatives, we can help develop in them the belief that they can indeed make a difference in the world.
Way to go students of 5V and thanks for helping the world!