Queneesh Elementary School teacher Jaki Braidwood says it’s amazing what kids can do, especially when they do it together.
When the school started counting up all the good things its students have done in the community, she was surprised at the tally.
“There’s some pretty significant things — like when we added them up — that they’ve contributed to the community and beyond,” she says.
For example, she explains the school took part in the Harvest for the Valley initiative a few years ago — in which residents would fill bags with food for the food bank — but when the community-wide initiative wasn’t happening the second year Queneesh was involved, the school decided to carry it on by itself.
“This year we collected just over 500 pounds of food so really within the last three years the food bank’s come and got just over 1,000 pounds of food from us,” she says, adding that number amazing, especially since some students’ families go to the food bank themselves. “We never thought we’d get that much food brought in because, you know, we’ve got lots of kids on our breakfast program and our lunch program and that, and yet, they give us 500 pounds worth of food.”
And she says there have been many other initiatives the school’s been involved in like collecting pennies to provide clean water for life to someone elsewhere in the world, and collecting used batteries to be processed for their zinc because zinc deficiencies are common in some countries.
Now, the school plans to throw itself behind The House The Kids Built, a project to raise funds for one of Habitat for Humanity Vancouver Island North’s six houses for Comox Valley families, in which many Comox Valley schools are expected to participate.
This project is one of the big I Can projects for Queneesh, according to teacher Patricia Hart, who adds I Can projects are designed to empower kids to make a difference in the community or world and teach students using inquiry-based learning methods.
Braidwood adds all the talk around I Can projects in some Comox Valley schools lately made Queneesh staff realize just how much the students there have done so far, and how much more they can do.
“It’s put more of a spotlight on the nature of it (school initiatives), so it’s something that people recognize, they can connect to and so it’s just pulling it all underneath one umbrella and just moving forward with it,” she says.
“It’s that bigger piece of the puzzle right, so each little piece that we do, the more that we do, the bigger our reach becomes, and the more people we impact. And so it’s just added another layer, I think, to what we’re doing with the kids and making them aware.”