St. Luke Catholic Elementary School students took time out this week to remember children across the globe who are suffering from injustice.
Junior kindergarten to Grade 8 students took a vow of silence on Tuesday in honour of kids in the world who are being exploited or denied their rights, as part of a fundraiser for Free the Children. The students’ vows of silence ranged from 15 minutes to two and a half hours, with each student donating a toonie and helping to raise $300 for the international charity.
Teachers Andrea Jacob, Natasha Shea-Metcalfe and Stacey Osterman organized the vow of silence fundraiser with the support of principal Karen Moyer.
“The event is in honour of those children, both globally and locally, who don’t have a ‘voice’ – child labourers, children without access to clean water or education, those who are bullied or who live in poverty – and is in recognition of their plight,” said Osterman, adding the school has participated in fundraising efforts for Free the Children for years. “The vow of silence fundraiser is suggested on the organization’s website. Our Free the Children committee thought it would be a fun and unique opportunity for our students to further raise funds for the organization.”
St. Luke became involved with Free the Children seven years ago, after teachers in the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board heard the organization’s founder, Craig Kielburger, speak at a professional activity day event.
Free the Children specializes in sustainable development in the countries of Ecuador, Ghana, Haiti, Kenya, Nicaragua, Sierra Leone, India and rural China. The organization runs educational programs and campaigns in developed countries, with the aim of empowering youth to become socially engaged.
Teachers from St. Luke were inspired to start a Free the Children committee at the school.
The school has gone on to raise more than $14,000 for the organization through different initiatives, including coin drives, dress down days, cake raffles and movie days, and has built a well in Sierra Leone and a school in Sri Lanka.
Individual classes also have fundraised to buy school supplies, medical supply kits and goats for various global communities.
Osterman said the school will continue to contribute to the cause this year.
“We feel it is important for our students to look beyond their own needs to see the needs of others around them, either on a global or local level,” she said. “Each month, our school focuses on a virtue that we try to encourage in each student. For this month, it is the virtue of justice, which is very much reflected in Free the Children’s initiatives to bring justice to youth worldwide.”