Kids join giving movement

New program empowering students to change the world seeks to grow

In 2010, when Jacqueline Way's son Nicolas was three years old, they embarked on a year-long initiative, doing one thing to give back to the world in some way every day for 365.

Way blogged about the experience, hoping to inspire others to also give back more in their lives, and chronicled she and her son's daily gives, which ranged from walking instead of driving, to raising funds for international aid projects. Three years later, she partnered with friend and fellow West Vancouver mother Sareh Donaher, an École Pauline Johnson teacher, in hopes of bringing the concept to students across the North Shore and beyond.

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"The power of the change and the education it gave my son, I couldn't not but want to carry it forward to more children and let them have the benefits that my son got from our daily giving.. .. We want to change the world and we can't do it by ourselves and we figure what better than the next generation?" says Way.

Their resulting initiative, the 365give Challenge, an education program that teaches students how to give back to the world every day, was launched as a pilot in January at Pauline Johnson. Multiple classes took part over a 10-week period, rotating their giving from class to class each week. Examples of gives include beach, playground and park cleanups, delivering Valentine's Day cards to seniors at a local centre and fundraising for various charities. "It was amazing, it was groundbreaking and I've said this many times, that it exceeded our hopes and goals for the project. One of the biggest things that we felt we could accomplish with 365give as a new social and emotional learning program was that it would be simple to implement in the classroom, it would be very well and easily integrated with the curriculum and it would be extremely empowering for the students and it was all of those things and more," says Donaher.

Students at Sentinel's sports academy and Ridgeview elementary also took part, bringing the total participants to approximately 300 students so far. Based on the project's success, Way and Donaher are hoping to expand the program in September, seeing more local schools and teachers come on board. "Our goal is to have it in every classroom in every school," says Donaher.

They've partnered with SFU and UBC researchers who are examining the positive impacts of giving on children, and in addition they've launched a crowdfunding campaign (igg.me/at/365give) to help get their volunteer-based project up and running, and so it can be offered free to schools. 365give.ca

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