Toonie swim to Free The Children

Journal Pioneer staff
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Student group arranged discount swim for international development

SUMMERSIDE – Students from Three Oaks Senior High school recently arranged a toonie swim at Credit Union Place pool, raising more than $350 for international development as well as making an impact in their local community.

Alexa MacDougall, left, Breann Hastings, and other students from the People Helping People organizaiton at Three Oaks Senior High school initiated a toonie swim at Credit Union Place to support Free The Children international development.

It was the first activity towards raising $10,000 to support the international efforts of Free The Children, the world’s largest organization of children helping children through education. The money will go towards creating and supplying a school for a community, as well as fostering employment in the same region.

Free The Children is an organization founded in 1995 by 12-year-old Canadian Craig Kielburger to fight child labour in the world. It has initiated a range of activities and causes that encourage children to be empowered to affect change locally and globally.  Kielburger continues with the organization as a volunteer ambassador, as well as supporting the ideas as an author and media columnist.

Beyond the benefit of supporting international development, the toonie swim had an immediate effect. The event allowed local citizens to save up to 70 per cent off the cost of a pool day pass at Credit Union Place, facilitated for a recent Saturday afternoon by aquatics manager Barb McNeill.

Breann Hastings is in grade 12 at Three Oaks and part of the People Helping People student group that is organizing the campaign. People Helping People is an offshoot of the Farmers Helping Farmers worldwide organization.

Hastings acknowledged that helping with the organization can be used to fulfill bursary hours for a provincial program, but identified a greater attraction to Kielburger’s efforts and successes over the years.

Several of the approximately 20 students in the school organization helped out at the collection table for the swim, each of them committed to the idea of helping a disadvantaged foreign community to create a sustainable future.

“Most are involved because of passions for Free The Children, and aiding the community in general,” Hastings summarized.

Last year, the TOSH branch of People Helping People raised over $2,500 for well-water development. Their “Water for Change” effort to collect the pennies that had just been declared surplus to the Canadian coinage system actually exceeded its goal by 20 percent.

Free The Children is giving what is needed (for communities) to build themselves up Megan Doherty - People Helping People student group member at TOSH

The People Helping People group is fostering its own sustainability as well. Most of the students at the toonie swim were in grade twelve and are veterans of fundraising efforts, but grade ten student Alexa MacDougall also volunteered to build experience for future efforts.

They will have plenty of opportunity, as they have a goal of raising $10,000 before the beginning of May. The most promising of these events will be a toonie drive, encouraging donation of a coin per day for seven days at the beginning of April. They have put the word out to the TOSH feeder schools, hoping to introduce younger students to the cause and overall concept of contributing to international development.

They will also have a public component, providing building-shaped collection boxes at a number of locations around the community.

They are hoping for a strong response, especially from the feeder school students, and have based their expectations on having 800 students join the effort for the better part of the seven days. They recognize the challenge, even for such a small value as a toonie a day, but urge contributors to see the value of giving up the price of a cup of coffee for the enormous advantage that it could give to an underdeveloped community.

“Free The Children is giving what is needed (for communities) to build themselves up,” explained volunteer Megan Doherty.

The fundraising efforts will wrap up at the end of April or beginning of May, with a Grand Finale at the school before the funds are forwarded to the national office of Free the Children.


Organizations: Free The Children, People Helping People, Credit Union Place

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