Story by: Kayla Kreutzberg
Photo from: UGDSB website
Earlier this year, Hyland Heights Elementary School (ES) Grade 7/8 teacher James Palmer gave his class a simple assignment of picking a topic important to them, and then asking them to give a brief presentation in front of the class about their topic.
Palmer said the assignment turned into something much more impactful.
He said some of the presentations were very passionate and some were causes that you could bring awareness to.
“So, I asked them if they wanted to do that, if they wanted to try to actually make some change, and they were really excited about that, so we had a class vote to see what topics they wanted to pursue because there were 26 different topics,” Palmer said.
Palmer said after voting the class narrowed it down to four causes, epilepsy research, adoption awareness, farmers in India and reducing waste through the use of reusable water bottles.
He said the class hoped to do fundraising for the four causes but economically they understood it’s been such a hard year for everybody, so instead they created reusable water bottles.
“It didn’t make sense to draw money out of the community, even for a really good cause, and the water bottles are a nice compromise because we got them made by a local guy who’s connected to our school, and he gave them to us for cost and he helped us with the design work, so it was a cool partnership with a local business,” Palmer said.
The class kicked it up a notch and planned a video presentation for the school about the water bottles, and they also created posters, announcements, flyers and more to further advertise them.
Palmer said the class is selling the reusable water bottles for $10 each and the hope is that they generate conversation outside of their school walls about the four causes and their importance.
He said with this awareness project he was hoping to show his class that it’s possible to have something you care about and then try to take action.
“When they get to high school they will have so much more capability and reach, so if they are passionate about something different then or even the same causes, maybe it’s a blueprint for them to [know] how to get involved, how to reach out to the community, and how to plan a campaign to let people know,” Palmer said.
Palmer said he’s incredibly proud of all his students for having causes they were so passionate about and wanting to create change.
He added the class has a goal of selling 100 reusable water bottles and if anyone is interested in learning more and purchasing one click here.