Bathurst High turns “me” into “we”

Mar 22, 15 Bathurst High turns “me” into “we”

It just so happens that the cupcake you bought during the last bake sale contributed to the growing stack of change that has been collected by the Bathurst High School Free the Children group since last year.

Bathurst High School boasts more than 30 extra-curricular groups and clubs, an impressive and inclusive list that includes the student-led initiative, Free the Children. During a meeting on Thursday, March 12th, Mr. Macdonald, principal and group coordinator discussed the importance of a club like this and why it deserves attention.

“It’s kids helping kids.”

Free the Children is an international charity and educational partner that provides the tools and resources to empower students as agents of change. Together, the teachers and students at BHS have organized multiple groups that promote a more globally-conscious student body such as the Advanced Technology Program that focuses on sustainability and Global Nomads, a group concerned with connecting with other students to discuss relevant world issues.

Macdonald stated, “We’ve had similar programs. The difference is We Day itself.”

This past fall, twenty Free the Children members attended We Day in Halifax, a concert event featuring performances and motivational speakers to reward volunteerism. It promotes youth coming together to make the world a better place. It represents the global movement of our time. Macdonald describes We Day from the perspective of an educator.

“They see the whole stadium just filled with students. So they look around and they think, ‘hey, there are students just like I am who want to change things’ and I think that’s very powerful.”

Free the Children provides an opportunity for students to get involved in something that is extremely hands-on. Volunteer trips are offered where students are able to see their positive actions come to fruition. Macdonald explains how attending We Day and making a commitment to the program allows students to understand their influence as future leaders.

“You do have power as students.”

Katie MacDermaid, a member of the group explains that at times, looking at the big picture can make you feel completely powerless.

“I think that our student body in particular is very uneducated about world issues and what’s really going on in the world.”

From a student’s perspective, attaining the two-year goal of raising $10 000 to build a school in a developing country seems even more challenging in our small community. By no one’s fault, the school with a population declining rapidly from 500 students lacks the resources of larger schools.

Living in such a close-knit community, it is easy to succumb to the “small town mentality.” MacDermaid explains that often, it can be difficult to see past your front door. “Bathurst is such a small point in the whole world.”

Despite the challenges faced, Bathurst High’s Free the Children group is determined to reach their goal. However, this won’t be possible without the rest of the student body’s support. Nikitta Doucet, a member of the group explains that people are aware of the initiatives in place, but not many understand why.

As stated by MacDermaid, “No matter what you do, there’s always going to be some people that no matter how hard you try to convince them, they just won’t care. And that’s something you can’t change. Most people don’t realize the impact they could potentially have on someone else’s life.”

Since the program was founded in 1995 by Canadian Craig Kielburger, Free the Children has provided 55 000 children with access to education every day, 1 000 000 people with clean water, health care and adequate sanitation and more than $16 000 000 worth of medical supplies to people around the world. MacDermaid admits that it’s incredibly awarding to be part of something so meaningful.

“It’s kind of nice to have that rewarding feeling of making a change.”

Since the implementation of the program at Bathurst High School last year, the group has raised over $5000 towards funding the construction of a school overseas. They continue to participate in multiple campaigns such as “We Are Rafikis,” where bracelets made by Kenyan mothers are sold to help the women support their families, “We Create Change,” a campaign that involves collecting coins for sustainable development projects and “We Bake for Change.”

Not only does Free the Children work to empower families abroad, but also people in the community. This year, the group also reached out to the community during the campaign “We Scare Hunger,” where non-perishable food items were collected and donated to the volunteer center.

On April 16th, the group encourages the student body to take the vow of silence during the next campaign, “We are Silent” to raise awareness for the millions of girls around the world facing poverty, exploitation and the denial of their right to education. Everyone has a voice that needs to be heard. Support Free the Children and take a silent stand so others can speak out.