by TIM -LEONE-GETTEN
In the spring of 2008, Open School began a partnership with ImpactLives, a nonprofit organization that provides nutrient-rich, high protein food as emergency relief to starving people around the world. We hosted a food packing event for our entire K-12 student body. It was extremely successful as we packed over 47,000 meals. Our students were so energized by this service project that in 2008-2009, we expanded it to include two days of packing at Open School as well as tying in our work to our curriculum, K-12. We also brought this great opportunity to other district schools. We set up the project at Adams and Groveland in May 2009 during Open School’s interim week. This school year we plan to continue our relationship with Adams as well as to include students from Nokomis Montessori.
Photo: A packing day at OWLC.
Twenty-five students are on the OWL Against Hunger team as well as over 1,500 students and hundreds of parent and community volunteers from the other elementary schools with which we partner.
We would like students to become aware of and knowledgeable about world hunger. We want students to experience that through our actions as individuals and a community, we can make a real difference in the world and learn how to “be the change we want to see in the world.” This will be done in elementary classrooms and in secondary geography courses. We have developed a series of lesson plans used in the elementary schools during morning meeting time. Lesson titles are What is Hunger? Who is Hungry? and The Power of a Penny. In addition, classrooms participate in a “Hunger Banquet” activity facilitated by staff and the OWL team. The secondary students at OWL also engage in crew (advisory) lessons and in their geography classes, where teachers are focusing on hunger and the countries to which help is being sent.
The third packing day of this school year is in May. Students on the OWL Team work 40 hours each. Additionally, there is a small core group of three to four students that put in 50-80 additional hours each in planning for the Kids Against Hunger. These events require a great deal of precise advance work to make sure we are ready for the hundreds of volunteers each day. With three packing days during the school year, we have a project of very long duration and high intensity, but extremely rewarding and worthwhile.
Students study causes and perceptions of world hunger from a variety of perspectives. They also focus on the history and culture of Haiti, where the majority of the food will go. We are very clear that this is an action based in solidarity, not charity, making it clear that there are many complex reasons for hunger, but that it is an entirely solvable problem.
This project provides students with an excellent opportunity to do something real to make the world a better place. Often kids feel helpless when faced with the huge problems of the world today, but this project has been a way for them to learn and be of service at the same time. Many students have told us that it is a highlight of their year and one of the best things they have ever done.
The packing day that had been scheduled for March has been postponed until May. This year, without corporate sponsors, the OWLC Kids Against Hunger project is faced with raising about $5,000 in order to make the packing possible — they have raised $1,100 already and would welcome any contributions. Call Open World Learning Community to get involved: 651- 293-8670 or visit OWLC at 90 Western Ave. S.