One of the final activities of the school year is "Relay for Life" (walking to raise money and awareness for cancer patients) .
As you may have recalled from earlier posts, one of my classes got very passionate about the water situation in developing countries. We were in touch with CharityWater.org which provided some fabulous educational resources, but with all of our fundraising initiatives already in place, we didn't fit raising money for them in.
But just to honor their awareness the grade 6 class developed an "extra credit challenge" to "Relay for Life." We labeled (five) 5 gallon buckets with this message ... "Kids in developing countries have to carry water for their families many miles each day . Can you do it ? "
We put the filled buckets out during the Relay.
I introduced the challenge by saying "We want to see if these buckets can make it around the field once . You can carry for a bit and put it down and hopefully someone else will come along and pick it up. "
Those buckets didn't touch the ground once during 90 minutes.
There was no incentive, or prize. Kids who normally wouldn't even think of drinking tap water out of their faucet without filtering it, were willing to carry big buckets of dirty water around a field on a 90 degree day !
It was beautiful to see who rose to the challenge... it wasn't only the predictable "good students" or traditionally "do gooder" helpful kids. It was all different types of students; Ones that were normally quiet, ones that wrestle with behavior or learning problems . So many different combinations of pairs or triplets , different grade levels genders. A small grade 5 girl was trying to carry one and two bigger grade 6 boys came along to help. One student dressed in long sweatpants carried it by himself around the field twice !
I hope it will resonate with them as an empathetic experience. I know it showed me and everyone who witnessed it, the amazing character of our middle school students, and made my heart sing before leaving for the summer.
I know it isn't anything compared to the real struggles that some students around the world have, but it is reassuring to know that kids can care and understand. I will try to get those (now) grade 7 students organized to set up a fundraiser and maybe all the students who participated will also help donate.
I hope each of us finds small ways this summer to try to understand how others live.