The project is part of Free The Children’s year-long initiative to build 200 schools and improve access to education in developing communities around the globe.
For the second year in a row students from KAHS attended the We Day in Calgary last month and were inspired to join the “We Create Change” movement. Teacher Mike Gibson along with fellow teacher Robyn Baraniecki and intern teacher Taylor Barton took a group of 22 students to the Calgary Saddledome on Oct. 24 for the We Day event where they were part of a crowd of 16,000 youth.
We Day began six years ago in Toronto, the brain child of brothers Craig and Marc Kielburger who started the international charitable organization, Free The Children.
Students heard from Martin Luther King III, who is the eldest son of Martin Luther King Jr., along with the Kielburgers and speakers such as Spencer West, who lost his legs as a young child and made the trek from Edmonton to Calgary this past spring on his hands and in his wheelchair.
Gibson noted one of the most powerful speakers at the event was Amanda Lindhout, New York Times best-selling author and journalist, who shared her story of being kidnapped in Somalia.
Last year students at KAHS took on the challenge of raising funds for the water sustainability for life project and raised $4,300 in 51 days.
This year they are taking on a year-long project to raise enjoy money to build a school.
“We’re taking on the task to see if we can build one.”
It takes 500 bricks to build a school and at $20 a brick the students need to collect $10,000.
“I have 30 kids signed up,” said Gibson and they are working to spread the word and generate donations to the project.
He said at first the project seemed overwhelming but when he asked the students to approach it as a math problem they could see it could be done one brick at a time.
Collection boxes have sprouted up around the school and in the community.
“I’ve ordered more.”
Gibson said he has always been captivated by inspiring people with powerful messages and We Day has “blown the doors off” when it comes to getting young people pumped up to create change in the world.
“You have to earn your way to We Day.”
To participate students have to be part of a local project, which for KAHS was their support of the local food bank, and a global project, which was their water project last year.
Through their efforts they earned the 25 tickets to the We Day. Gibson said he’s not surprised at how well the KAHS students did with their project last year.
“If you get kids behind it and they are passionate about it- the sky is the limit.”
He said kids love a good challenge and he has challenged his four social studies classes to see who can raise the most funds in the school build project.
It’s a challenge student Kayley Dueck is eager to see her class take.
“Currently our class is winning.”
When she attended the We Day for the first time this year she said she didn’t know what to expect.
“It was very inspirational.”
She said when you watch a movie about social issues it doesn’t seem real but hearing someone talk about their own experiences makes it real.
Dueck said she came away from the day feeling she has a responsibility to help out locally and globally which is why she is taking part in the challenge to raise the funds to build a school.
She was also invited to attend a meeting in Calgary about the opportunity to take part in Free The Children trips to countries where she can help build schools and volunteer.
“I’d love to make a difference.”
Nicole Lefler also attended the We Day for the first time with the KAHS group.
“My friends actually got me involved.”
She said being in the Saddledome with 16,000 youth to share in the We Day event was “amazing and absolutely inspiring”.
She definitely felt inspired to make a change and education is a particular focus for her. She said it was very eye-opening to realize how many children around the world don’t have the chance to get an education.
She said when she was a kid she thought everyone had the same opportunity she did to get an education but some just chose not to pursue it. Now she knows that is not the case in other parts of the world and she wants to get involved on more of a global scale.
For Jessica Lohues the experience of taking part in We Day fits right in with her plans to build a career in education.
“It was an amazing experience.”
She wants to be a teacher and said equality for girls is a huge issue for her.
“Seeing that was incredible.”
She will be talking to the rest of the student body at KAHS about her experience and the opportunity youth in the community have to create change locally and on a global scale.
“It makes me feel like I need to be doing a lot more.”
Lohues believes her school can raise the $10,000 required to build a school.
“I think our school can do it.”
She said considering there are about 375 people at the school it works out to $26.67 each.
“Knowledge is power, if you give people knowledge they can change the world.”
Lohues said in Canada all children can get an education, it is given to them and because they have that opportunity they should be able to help others who don’t have that same opportunity in other parts of the world.