I'm doubling up today!
It's Day 28 of the Slice of Life Story Challenge, started by Two Writing Teachers. I am writing around the theme topic of "What I Know For Sure." (See Day 1 for a full explanation.)
I love linking up to a wonderful celebratory community, inspired by Ruth Ayres, on Saturdays!
Today I'm celebrating young people giving back to the world. In the fall, we embarked upon our second annual #ReadWalkWater fundraiser after reading A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park. Our sixth graders jumped on the opportunity to do something about the world water crisis after reading about Salva Dut and his organization, Water for South Sudan, Inc. Those kids raised money, walked, and donated water to Matthew 25 Ministries with joy and conviction. Yesterday I learned, after we sent in a check from a community member who read about our story in the local paper, that we have raised just over $15,000 this year so far - the full cost of building a well in a South Sudan village. And we're not done yet!! We've pledged to raise another $1,000 by the end of the school year for the Iron Giraffe Challenge to help buy a new oil drill for the organization so they can build even more wells in the region, along with clinics and schools. I have no doubt that the kids will give another 100% to get that challenge met. Meanwhile, my friend, David Etkin, raised over $16,000 with Sweet Home Schools this year for wells in Uganda, and I know many more teachers across the country who are doing a similar social action project with their students.
You hear a lot about "today's kids," the Millennials. and Generation Z - all accused of being narcissistic, entitled, digital natives, having no attention span, disillusioned, and obsessed with video games, texting, and selfies. While I'm sure those traits are present in some of our youth, I see something different. I was amazed at my 6th graders last year and this year and their commitment to do good in the world. Last year, before we even finished A Long Walk to Water, students started planning fundraisers. They were moved to action. They made bracelets to sell, started conserving water, and wrote about the water crisis. They volunteered to sell bracelets during lunch, at football games, and school events. They were deeply affected by the plight of people without water. Our 5th graders last year donated pajamas to the Pajama Program sponsored by Scholastic. They were so excited that they were a part of keeping kids warm during the winter season. I also have many students who are involved in church missions, charities, and other good works. They write about it in their Slices of Life, full of compassion and empathy.
I also see my own children and their friends doing wonderful things, too. Throughout high school, each went on mission trips - Libby to New York City and Mexico, and Katie to Philadelphia and Czech Republic - with our church youth group. I attended a couple of these with them, and I saw the amazing faith and gifts the youth group members displayed. They were willing to do anything asked of them in any situation. I was humbled and moved at their abilities, courage, and the relationships they formed. Once Libby went to college, she immediately bonded with the most amazing group of young adults. They all have a passion for God and for helping others. Many of them are involved in Campus Crusade and Young Life, continuing to go on mission trips and even planning careers involving full-time ministries. Her fiance, Jamie, did a summer project with Campus Crusade in New Jersey, and Libby did one in Ecuador. I've written about one of Libby's friends, Jordan, before because she helped with our #ReadWalkWater initiative. She is the founder of the Wells Project with Living Water at Miami University and took teams to Guatemala and El Salvador to build wells. Katie's sorority is involved in the Make a Wish campaign, and she raised money for Buckeyethon for Nationwide Children's Hospital. I could go on and on, listing the young people I know who are doing great things like this. What a difference they're making!
What I Know For Sure: Young people are hungry to make a positive difference in the world. We, as adults and mentors, need to have faith in them, help equip them, and be positive role models of service and giving. There is hope in our future. I choose to focus on the good in our young people.
Jordan Griebner and the Wells Project
David Etkin and Sweet Home Schools