“It was very motivational to see the kids get behind it and get inspired. I realized from the get go that we could do this,” said Social Studies teacher and “We Create Change” Co-ordinator Mike Gibson.
“It was just keeping the kids motivated and on track and on task. Raising the $10,000 was never not going to happen, per se. With the group of kids we had this year from Grades 9-12 was phenomenal. The amount of effort they put into this — from the bake sales, fine arts nights, the concessions we ran and the burgers we cooked,” he noted, adding the group raised close to $12,200.
Gibson said any additional money raised above and beyond the original goal will go towards furniture and other supplies children will need in the classrooms in Africa.
Next year, Gibson said, a group of students from the school might pay a visit to Africa to help out with hands-on volunteerism.
“There’s a trip that’s been going to Kenya since 1999 and I was at a meeting last week, getting some of the particulars, and right now the goal would be to go to Kenya — the heart of Africa, where the ‘Me to We’ outfit operates and they have established camps that students stay at and they go and travel to the places that need the schools built and the hospitals built. Hopefully, we get some kids motivated and inspired to want to do that. Space will be limited, we’re probably looking at about 20-25 kids,” said Gibson.
“In all honesty, I didn’t think we were going to be able to do it,” said “We Create Change” group member and Grade 12 student Jessica Lohues, in regards to the success of the fundraising initiative.
“I thought if we paired up with the other schools in Coaldale then maybe we could get to our $10,000 but the fact that we did it in 126 days — it’s fantastic. It’s kind of hard to believe but we built a school. It’s awesome,” she added.
Lohues said she intends to pursue a career in education after graduation and the “We Day” and “We Create Change” initiative is all about education and educating others globally.
“It was something that I wanted to get involved with now and seeing all these people, that they don’t have an education, I know how much it means to me and I want other people to have the same opportunities. Knowledge is power, so we’re giving these people the power to change the world, to change their communities and change their lives to make the world a better place,” said Lohues.
Another Grade 12 student involved in the fundraising effort, Kaitlyn Penner, said she knew from the beginning the group was going to be able to raise the necessary funds to help build a school in Africa.
“I just thought, as a group of students, we were all going to pitch in and help and do it,” said Penner.
According to Penner, the young philanthropist got involved with the group because in Grade 10 she sponsored a child in need.
“I remember getting my first letter from her saying that, ‘I got to go to school for the first time.’ That in itself was amazing,” said Penner, adding if she could help one girl go to school then by raising funds to build a school more kids could be educated.
Gibson wishes to thank Mr. Van Dyk’s Grade 6 class from Dorothy Dalgleish in Picture Butte. The group helped raise $1,300.