Teacher Danielle Dunsmore’s Grade 4/5 class at Kidston school take part in a vow of silence Nov. 30 to raise awareness for children who have no voice

Students help to Free the Children

Kidston school students take a vow of silence, Free the Children, Craig Kielburger

A small group of dedicated and informed children can make a difference. Students in Danielle Dunsmore’s Grade 4/5 class at Kidston elementary school took a vow of silence Nov. 30 to raise awareness and funds for Free the Children. The morning bell rang and the students went quietly to their desks, then stood at attention while O Canada was played on the PA system. “I am so proud of you,” Dunsmore wrote on the overhead projector. She handed out some questions about Free the Children so the students could write explanations about what they were doing. Free the Children was founded by Craig Kielburger in 1995 when he was 12 after he heard about children being mistreated in Third World countries. He built the organization into a way for youth to help other youth and there are now one million young people in 45 countries around the world involved. The holistic development model is built on four pillars: education, health, alternative income, and water and sanitation. The Kidston project had the students raise pledges for each successful hour of silence with money going to build schools and campaign against child labour, especially child soldiers, prostitution, bonded labour, plantation labour and dangerous labour. The students had learned about children being mistreated and the Free the Children organization by watching a video, reading Kielburger’s book and discussing these in class. They also prepared awareness information for other classes in their school. Following are their thoughts about how their lives are different from those of children in some other countries and why they want to help change this: Martina: “Children are forced to do the worst types of work, like working with dangerous gases against their will.” Matthew: “There are child slaves and child soldiers.” Nick: “I want people to know that kids are being used as slaves and kids are starving with their parents.” Emily L.: “Little five-year-olds are chopping down trees and getting hurt really bad. They can’t get educated or have the joy of coming to see friends. I don’t think it’s fair at all.” Emily B.: “We went to other classrooms to talk about being silent.” Abbey: “I think helping people is great.” Ryan B.: “They get sold from their families to work and do dangerous jobs and never go to school. I want children to be educated.” Mackenzie: “I don’t have to work in mines or factories or dangerous places. I have proper clothes and food and good schools.” Jaylan: “They have hardly anything I have, no education, no toys, no horses, no schools, sometimes no food.” Sydney: “Some of the children are sold for $16 and have to work and most of them are the same age as us. Child labour is not right and it needs to stop. People here can make a difference.” Ryan V.: “I don’t make carpets all day. People need to know what’s happening and it needs to stop.” Josh: “They are not treated like kids.” Isla: “Children have to work in hazardous places and are often taken from their families.” Braydon: “Some don’t have a mom or dad.” Jayson: “I will give food,” referring to the other class projects to help people through food bank donations. Quinten: “They have to sleep in dangerous spots and we have warm homes.” Max: “They get dirty water, we get pop. They wear sandals or bare feet, we get runners. We get a nice heated three-story home and they get a hut. We can make a difference, stand up and help. We can’t just ignore them. This is serious.” Lanaya: “I want people to know what’s happening and not everyone has much food, water and toys. A lot are very young and extremely in poverty.” Sarah: “We watched a video with a story about a boy who was a child labourer. It touched my heart. They are forced to work and have no future.” Ceanna: “We can get an education in life and they can’t. They are being child slaves. It is just cruel.” Sheldon: “Can you imagine a five-year-old forced to work? Well, we are sitting down eating chocolate and watching TV and chocolate was probably from the children.”

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