Springwood Middle School teacher Robin Pawliuk made a presentation to the school board on Jan. 24, about a new Making a Difference program, continuing her work to engage students in social responsibility.
“It’s easy to make a difference if you know how,” said Grade 8 student Emma Deering, who went on a trip to volunteer at the Loaves and Fishes food bank in Nanaimo.
“We try to get kids here to see they can actually make a difference,” Pawliuk said of her work which started about seven years ago after a visit to Guatemala with her daughter.
After that trip they co-founded Mayan Families Canada and began working with local students for their own awareness and to help raise donations for children in Guatemala.
While Pawliuk is still involved, Mayan Families Canada has taken on a life of its own with various schools taking on projects.
More recently she has been working on other programs, starting with her own school.
She brought three Grade 7 and 8 students with her to the school board meeting to talk about the things they have been involved in this year.
“I got to hand out toiletries,” Deering said of her trip to Nanaimo, explaining it was an eye opening experience to see that the people who needed a hand were “just like you and me, but they have different needs,” and that you don’t often think about things like toiletries, or the socks they handed out in Victoria on another trip.
Eric Thompson admitted he was really nervous when they first went on the Victoria trip, but Pawliuk called him their poster child “with his parent permission,” she pointed out.
She said half way through the day he was deeply involved and clearly enjoying the experience.
On his own initiative Grade 7 student Ryan Campbell had asked that people don’t bring presents to his twelfth birthday, but donate cash instead and he raised $510.
While Pawliuk said the programs are going great and her defining moments as a teacher have come from watching the students in those kinds of activities, “funding is a huge issue,” with transportation being the main expense that she hoped the board would take into consideration in the future.
Check www.mayanfamiliescanada.org for more on that program and watch your local school for more social responsibility activities in the near future.