Students dream big and earn ‘Big Dreamers’ Award’

It was a go-big or go-home mentality for Mt. Slesse middle school’s Grade 9 leadership class.

For a class of 27 students, they achieved goals that some non-profits aren’t even able to reach. They held fundraisers every month, raised awareness for several different causes, got their peers to donate, and boosted the school’s spirit in helping others and thinking beyond their school bubble.

It was a go-big or go-home mentality for Mt. Slesse middle school’s Grade 9 leadership class.

For a class of 27 students, they achieved goals that some non-profits aren’t even able to reach. They held fundraisers every month, raised awareness for several different causes, got their peers to donate, and boosted the school’s spirit in helping others and thinking beyond their school bubble.

In a year, the class raised over $9,000.

Last week, their efforts were recognized.

Free the Children, an international non-profit organization that empowers children to help children, awarded Mt. Slesse’s leadership class with the Big Dreamers’ Award.

“This award isn’t about just one thing, it’s about everything they’ve done,” said leadership teacher Sandra Rae.

The class raised funds for the Terry Fox Foundation, Cops for Cancer, BC Children’s Hospital, Canuck Place, World Wildlife Federation, BCSPCA, United Nations, and nearly $3,000 alone for the clean water campaign in Haiti.

They made care packages for the homeless, collected blankets and canned food for the Salvation Army and Union Gospel Mission. And for the first time in Mt. Slesse’s history, the whole school participated in Do Something Day, where students spent a day delivering acts of kindness throughout the community, instead of going on field trips – all on the encouragement of leadership students.

The students, however, didn’t just expect donations to roll in, they worked hard, using savvy skills to persuade their peers to give.

“We realized that if you give kids rewards, they’ll bring in more money,” said student Elzan Beukes.

They held fundraising cake auctions, mini carnivals and dances. They organized a rally that had teachers and principals facing teen torture if enough money was raised, some of which included men waxing their legs, teachers duct taped to the wall, pies in the face, hair dyed a variety of fluorescent colours.

“And we had a huge thermometer on the wall where students could see how far they were from the principal waxing his legs,” said student Nadia Van Den Berg.

“Advertising was a big deal for us trying to raise money.”

With the Big Dreamers’ Award, the leadership class got $1,000 to be used on a charity of their choice. They donated it to Free the Children’s Haiti clean water campaign.

“This award isn’t for us,” said Van Den Berg.

“It’s for the children,” said Beukes.

The award was the second national award given to the leadership class this year. In January Free the Children had also awarded the students with a Me to We speaker for raising $1,899 for Haiti.

“How can we not continue to help?” asked Van Den Berg. “I think of the kids in Haiti and Japan who don’t have the privileges we have. They didn’t ask for that, so who am I not to help them if I’m in a position where I can.”

kbartel@theprogress.com