I have worked as a School Social Worker for Guadalupe Charter for the past 7 years. I have been tasked with the responsibility of teaching students the skills necessary to effectively navigate the stresses of life and be confident in their ability to make healthy choices. One question I often grapple with is, “how do I help young children understand their personal power in making positive contributions within their community?”
This is the question I had in mind when I began planning the Social Skills curriculum for the Guadalupe Summer School. A co-worker and I were talking about how inspired we were by a small group of 6th Grade students from the previous year who had taken it upon themselves to raise money for a beloved member of our community who had encountered serious health concerns. We proudly spoke of these students’ generosity and commitment to helping others. We cried as we reflected on how young people can make a big difference. It suddenly occurred to us that we could create a fundraising project for summer school students where they could have the experience of giving back to someone in need. So began Guadalupe Summer School’s “Read For Relief” Fundraiser.
We searched for agencies within the community who inspired us by their various mission of giving back and landed upon Shriners Hospital For Children. Their vision of “transforming children’s lives by providing exceptional healthcare through innovative research, in a patient and family-centered environment,” spoke to us, and we began brainstorming how to create an opportunity for students to feel invested and motivated to earn money for this exceptional institution.
We introduced students to the fundraiser during an opening assembly on the first day of Summer School. A representative from Shriners Hospital graciously presented about the history and mission of the agency. The real buy-in for students came in the form of a young girl who told students her story about how Shriners Hospital helped her overcome the devastating effects she experienced after having a stroke as a baby. We were all hooked.
The concept was simple: have students find sponsors who would donate 20 cents for every page they read over a two week period. The execution was harder. Guadalupe Students went to their families and friends and sold them on why they should give their hard earned money to a children’s hospital. Unsurprisingly, many of our families and community members stepped up to the job. The next two weeks were a flurry of words on a page as students eagerly tallied up their earnings. At the end of it all, students were able to raise $715 for Shriners Hospital. We are all so proud of the students and their efforts to help other children. - by Megan Daybell, Social Worker at Guadalupe School