When teacher Kate MacKenzie’s Grade 7 social studies class at Frontenac Public School was discussing natural disasters last month, the conversation turned to the devastating wildfires ravaging Australia during that time.
As the Burlington students learned more about the fires they felt compelled to help. They quickly assembled a fundraising campaign, complete with a website developed by students
and set a goal of raising $100. They raised more than $800 and recently sent the donated funds to the Red Cross in Australia.
The student-led fundraiser was very detailed, MacKenzie says. Students researched some of the organizations providing wildfire relief efforts in Australia, voted on the organization they felt would make the best use of the money raised and took it upon themselves to promote it.
“We wrote a proposal as a class to present to our school principal so he could approve our idea and offer feedback,” she says, adding that students then developed a website, a poster campaign, wrote morning announcements, and drafted a mass email that was sent to all school parents alerting them to the fundraiser for Australia.
“They really decided on the direction of the initiative, and came up with fantastic and creative ideas, finding ways to motivate each other. Once the ball started rolling there was no stopping them.”
Given the intensity of these wildfires have been linked to climate change via extreme heat and prolonged drought, Grade 7 student Milo says he and his class had to do something.
“Firefighters have risked their lives to stop the fires and people and animals have died, so I donated to help them,” he says. “Maybe 50 years from now, the environment could be much worse.”
MacKenzie is touched by the students’ initiative to help people living on the other side of the globe.
“They felt like they couldn’t ignore the terrible fires that were affecting so many people and animals overseas. They wanted to see if they could make a difference. The whole class was involved in some part of making this initiative happen, and all embraced their different roles.”
The fundraising initiative is connected to the Social Studies curriculum, MacKenzie says, as the students investigated the impact of natural events and/or human activities that change the physical environment. It is also connected to the Language curriculum by having students use persuasive writing techniques and communicate their findings in a clear way to their peers.
“They had to listen to the opinions and ideas of others, and consider what information was important so they could make an educated vote on various aspects of the initiative.”
MacKenzie hopes students learned how they can make positive change locally or globally.
“I hope they learned that they can make a difference, that if they work hard at something they feel passionately about, they will be successful. I hope they continue to believe in themselves as they set goals in their future.”