When our AMPS grade 7 class first started learning about the Syrian War and the Syrian Refugee Crisis the range of awareness went from full understanding of this humanitarian crisis to having never heard of the country of Syria before. We began our journey by investigating where Syria is, how the conflict started and how the refugee crisis has developed over the past several years. We read articles, picture books, novels, watched media clips and had lengthy discussions about how the Syrian people are struggling to survive and how those who have managed to escape have had a dangerous and often deadly journey to their new land.
We also investigated the challenges Syrian Refugees face once they arrive in Canada; a new language to learn, complete culture shock, needing to acclimate to the Canadian weather, lack of money, shelter and personal belongings, etc. We read stories of refugees being helped, but also discriminated against in their new countries. We had a guest speaker, who works with a Syrian refugee family of 12 in Bradford, come in and speak to our class about how difficult it has been for this particular family to assimilate into their new life in Canada. This realization of how hard life is for Syrian refugees is what inspired my grade 7s to take action. We originally tried to hold a clothing drive to help new refugees get through the cold Canadian winter, but we could not find an organization to take the clothing as they had enough at the time.
Then we read an online article about a Newmarket Syrian refugee who was trying to “pay it forward” to customers at the gas station he worked at. This man has three children right around the age of our classmates and so we reached out to the author, Tim Kelly, to see if he could ask the family if they need any clothing. The parents let Tim know that what they really need for their sons are computers so they can try to catch up and keep up with their new education here in Canada. My students immediately decided to take on the challenge of raising enough money to purchase Chromebooks for these boys. We are so fortunate at Alexander Muir to have ample technology, the students fully understand how important it is to get these boys computers to use at home as quickly as possible.
I reached out to James Bradley, the General Manager of Staples Newmarket, and he quickly agreed to help our class with a discount on Chromebooks for these boys. He also offered to provide them with laptop bags and USB keys should they need them.
We brainstormed several different ways that we could host a fundraiser and decided on a Spring Plant Fundraiser. I contacted several local greenhouses and decided to partner with Anthony Bajar Greenhouses here in Newmarket. We decided to sell three different plants for our fundraiser which lines up perfectly for delivery for Mother’s Day. Our goal is to raise $1500 profit, which means we will need to sell 305 plants.
In the meantime, the students continued to raise money on their own for our special cause. They shovelled snow for money, traded in gift certificates, and donated their allowances. With every dollar we raised the excitement grew. As we got closer to our April 6 fundraiser launch, the students were buzzing with the realization that they were actually doing something to make a difference in the lives of these boys who had been through so much.
To spread the word about our fundraiser, we created a media campaign. The students have created posters and wrote announcements to promote our initiative. They helped put together the information and order forms and deliver these to classes. They have signed up for shifts on May 10th and 11th, which will be the pick up dates for our flowers. Next week Tim Kelly will be visiting our classroom to write a follow up story about our fundraiser and our goals.
These grade 7 students are learning that they can make a difference in the lives of others. They are learning that even though we are just one class, we can be the one class that reaches out to help . We are so lucky to live where we do and have the opportunities that we have with our education, it’s time to pay it forward. #ampscares
Mrs. O’Donnell, Grade 7 teacher at Alexander Muir P.S.