More than 200 students from five local elementary schools gathered at the Stan Hagen Theatre at North Island College earlier this term to participate in a ‘change makers’ event, an initiative of Design for Change Canada.
One of those students — Olivia DeLuca, 11, who is in Grade 6 at Brooklyn Elementary in Comox — penned a thoughtful piece that captured some key elements about the event, which featured a host of performers and presenters including Helen Austin, the Isfeld improv team, and young singer/songwriters Stella & Sophie Swanson.
Olivia writes: ‘We enjoyed learning about Everybody Deserves A Smile (aka EDAS), created to help those in need by giving them care packages around the holidays. It is a non-profit organization that started in Edmonton, Alberta, just before Christmas, in 2003. As it says on the EDAS website, “Four friends came together and left 88 homemade care packages on garbage bins in the backstreets of downtown. At the time, they hoped to bring a smile to those living on our streets, letting them know that they were not alone and not forgotten that Christmas.” Students from Ecole Puntledge Park Elementary, and many schools in our district, have enjoyed keeping this project going for the homeless on Vancouver Island and beyond.’
Olivia explains that EDAS is an example of change making, which is about compassion and making someone smile by ‘fixing something that needs to be fixed.’ It could be as simple as ‘buying food for a struggling friend,’ or an event such as Boomer’s Legacy. The latter refers to Andrew ‘Boomer’ Eykelenboom, a Comox soldier who was killed by a suicide bomber in Afghanistan in 2006. The annual Boomer’s Ride from the Valley to Victoria raises money for the legacy, which has funded humanitarian projects such as midwife training for women in Kandahar.
‘It doesn’t matter how big it is or how long it lasts, what matters is how it impacts someone else’s life.’
In writing her article, Olivia needed to look no further than her classmates to draw inspiration.
“Lots of people in our class are very understanding about things,” she said to The Record. “We’re all kind of over-dramatic about certain issues. We really stick up for each other when something goes wrong.”
Which is Olivia’s inspiration for her personal project — the individual change making — which comes next month. Each class member created a model of what they have planned to do. She constructed a stage from popsicle sticks and glue.
Olivia and others had the same idea to form a theatre group. The idea is to let people “be who they are while being someone else.
“I feel that everybody has a hidden talent, but they just don’t know it yet, and everyone can express themselves in their own way,” Olivia said.
“She’s very articulate,” Brooklyn vice-principal Christine VanderRee said of Olivia. “Her information is all coming from the broader community, and helping her to become more open-minded about making changes, and taking initiatives.”
A few Grade 7 students proof-read Olivia’s writing before she submitted the essay. Her mother Nicole — a Grade 7 teacher at Brooklyn — did not help during the writing process. In fact, she was not even aware that her daughter was writing a paper.
“To the level it’s gone to, it’s been exciting,” Nicole said. “Surprising.”
When asked if she has a hero, Olivia said she looks up to a number of people. Like her doctor, Janet Green.
“When I was little I had croup,” Olivia said.
Singer Taylor Swift is another source of inspiration.
“She’s really open to her fans and does a lot of things for them. A lot of people write songs about their life and how it affects them.”
Olivia enjoys the process of writing when working on a fictional story. She prefers to make it up on the fly, as opposed to writing from a rough copy.
“My mom said that when I was in preschool, my teacher would say that she was going to read my books some day.”
She also enjoys musical theatre and speech arts.
“Dance is kind of a way of expression for me,” Olivia said. “I do write about lots of things, but sometimes I can’t find a way to put my feelings into words, so dancing helps me express that.”
The following is Olivia DeLuca’s original, unedited Letter to the Editor, which spurred the article:
The Change Makers Event
On the afternoon of Feb. 12, 2015, a wonderful event was held in the Stan Hagen theatre… The Change Makers event. Students from Brooklyn Elementary, Courtenay Elementary, Valley View, and Huband all attended. Along with performers and audience members Ecole Puntlege Park with Chantal Stefan from project E.D.A.S.
We enjoyed learning about “Everyone deserves a smile”( AKA E.D.A.S.). This was created to help the homeless by giving them gifts around the holidays. It is a non-profit organization that started in Edmonton, just before Christmas in 2003. As it says on the website, “ Four friends came together and left 88 homemade care packages on garbage bins in the backstreets of downtown. At the time, they hoped to bring a smile to those living on our streets, letting them know that they were not alone and not forgotten that Christmas”. The students at Puntledge and the schools in our district have enjoyed keeping this project going for the homeless on Vancouver Island.
That’s a good example of what change making is; Change making is when someone is really compassionate and tries to make someone else smile by fixing something that needs to be fixed. Some times, it could be something simple, like buying food for a struggling friend. Other times it could be something huge, like Boomers Legacy. It doesn’t matter how big it is or how long it lasts, what matters is how it impacts someone else’s life.
Boomers Legacy is about a young man named Andrew, nicknamed ‘Boomer’, who went to Afghanistan, to be a medic during war. He saw children freezing and it bothered him that no one could help them. He wrote to his mother asking for help and soon his mother and others had knit wool hats for young children to wear in Afghanistan. Sadly, Boomer was killed by a suicide bomber on August 11, 2006. The Boomers caps project began and became Andrew’s legacy. Boomers caps are the children’s hats. Even today solders are sent children’s clothes from Canada to give to children to keep them warm. That’s having a huge impact on all of those kids’ lives.
We had tons of other performers/ presenters at this event, including Stella & Sophie Swanson-two very young singer songwriters, Helen Austin-children’s album singer songwriter and hostess of this event, the Isfeld improv team, Fernanda Pare, Al Pullin, Bert Heeringa- Boomers legacy, Francis Nye, Dyllan Johannes, and Tristan Sumner. Plus Videos from DFC (design for change) International! Keep in mind each presentation (or video) represents a different change makers project… that’s a lot of change makers!
The main idea of the event was to inspire kids and teens to make a difference and change the world for the better. Anyone could be a change maker. You could check online for videos of DFC Canada or DFC International! Plus, did you know there were approximately 205 students watching the event? and the songs Stella and Sophie Swanson sang were Ba Buddha, road trip and 10 hugs a day. So what are you going to do to change the world?
By Olivia DeLuca