How one Toronto school is sparking the next generation of philanthropists and community advocates.
Two Grade 5 classes at Runnymede Public School have recently proved the power of children determined to build a world they would like to live in, and we can all take inspiration from it! Both homeroom classes began a unit on poverty and homelessness this year, examining local, provincial and national perspectives. This unit was an extensive cross-curricular exploration of poverty, delving into many different subjects.
Initially, the group started by reading, exploring topics like food scarcity and how inflation has increased the Canadian cost of living. Together they summarized these articles to pull out key ideas.
From there, as a project for their data management class, they researched statistics about poverty in Canada. They learned how to interpret, analyze and draw conclusions from the data that helped to guide their analysis.. By combining lessons in financial literacy and mathematics, they compared the cost of living in different areas, tying it to projected earnings in minimum wage jobs. Then, the classes discussed what different budgets might look like for people earning minimum wage.
Did you Know?
According to Statistics Canada, the Consumer Price Index (CPI), which measures the cost of a basket of goods and services, rose by 3.7% in August 2021 compared to the same month in the previous year (Source: Statistics Canada, September 15, 2021).
“The kids were shocked. How are people on minimum wage supposed to afford rent in Toronto and a reasonable lifestyle?”– Mark Dimitroff, Runnymede Teacher
After learning how poverty is affecting Canadians and where it comes from, the classes took on a much bigger and more complex question – what can be done about it? Inspired by their new-found knowledge and passion for community engagement, they didn’t waste time getting to work.
The Spark of Community
In their French class, students were asked to write a persuasive email to premier Doug Ford expressing their concern, sharing what steps they have already taken in their community and outlining what steps they feel should be taken by the government. They even pulled in some of the statistics they analyzed to craft a compelling argument.
They also looked at what they could accomplish within their own school community, starting with a holiday food drive led by their student government. The Grade 5 class blew everyone away by collecting the most food – and earning a hot chocolate party prize! They also contributed to a Holiday Hamper campaign by gathering gift cards, clothing, and other items into gift baskets for families in need.
Fortunately for us at Moorelands Kids, the inspiration didn’t stop there.
The fifth graders started to do some more research about what organizations in Toronto might help them connect with and empower people living in poverty. They learned how the shelter system works in Canada, and explored what charities are set up to support these vulnerable populations already. They were most inspired to find charities that support youth their own age that are living in poverty in their community.
“Many of them go to camp and really value their after-school activities, so they thought, how do some kids not have these opportunities?”– Mark Dimitroff, Runnymede Teacher
They read how Moorelands Kids provides opportunities for children and youth living in poverty, and were inspired by the leadership-focused training that helps youth become successful in life. In particular, the kids were drawn to our Send a Kid to Camp Campaign.
After a group vote, the classes chose to support both Moorelands Kids and the Covenant House Toronto. They got to work organizing a fundraising event of their own. Each child proposed a booth that spoke to their specific skillset and interests – some baked desserts, some offered face painting and some organized carnival-style games.
A poster for the event designed by a student!
In media literacy and visual arts classes, they created posters for the event. Their French listening and speaking teacher helped students develop announcements and practise speaking about poverty and fundraising. Business skills were a key focus as the students learned what is marketable and what is a good price for their booth offerings.
After all their hard work, it was no surprise that the event was a HUGE success, raising over $1,500!
At Moorelands Kids, we believe teaching good citizenship, empathy and leadership is a key element of Positive Youth Development. This school project is a great example of how young people can make a significant difference in their communities when supported and challenged by a caring environment.
Moorelands Kids is so inspired by the fifth graders, the teachers and faculty at Runnymede, as well as the parents of both Grade 5 classes who are doing their part to inspire the next generation of philanthropists!
Statistics Canada. “Consumer Price Index, August 2021.” The Daily, 15 Sept. 2021, https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/daily-quotidien/210915/dq210915a-eng.htm.