Peace Arch Elementary students add their fingerprints to T-shirts as part of an inclusion challenge issued by White Rock RCMP Const. Chantal Sears in response to students’ request for a courthouse tour. (Contributed photo)

White Rock students rise to inclusion challenge

Seniors, kids and more to benefit from Peace Arch Elementary students’ efforts

A challenge to tackle inclusion, issued to students at Peace Arch Elementary, has evolved into something bigger than expected – including a lesson on communication, leadership, taking chances and making a difference.

School liaison Const. Chantal Sears said it all began with a proposal from Grade 6/7 students at the White Rock school for a field trip to Surrey Provincial Court, as a reward for them reaching academic and leadership goals.

Rather than simply acquiesce, Sears said she tasked each of the four classes of preteens with identifying a group in White Rock that was somehow excluded from the community, and coming up with a way to effect a change for people in that group.

They stepped up, Sears said.

“Lots of great ideas,” Sears told Peace Arch News, noting a key starting point for the students was ensuring the needs of whatever group they identified were “real and not perceived.”

The groups settled on seniors, Special Olympics BC, pediatrics at Peace Arch Hospital and low-income families.

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For the latter, students – after some feedback from Sears on their ideas – contacted Sources and arranged to gather food and other items of need for four families, including one affected by a house fire.

According to a list on the classroom whiteboard, those needs range from household items and food, to clothing and gift cards for gas.

The students also brainstormed how to go about meeting the needs, as well as how they could get the rest of the school involved in the effort – another mandatory component of Sears’ challenge.

“I just want to see people working together and included,” Sears told the students during a visit last week.

Later that day, the class invited fellow students from all grades to add their fingerprint to 24 T-shirts that the organizers planned to wear for a fundraising walk at the school today (Thursday, May 16). With the gesture, “they’re carrying the school,” said their teacher, who asked to not be identified.

The teacher described her students as “so into” the challenge.

Lachlin McNeilage, Kylie Halley and Brooklyn Creech described the project as both rewarding and fun.

Seniors at White Rock Seniors Village are the focus of Yasmin Yalpani’s students, who are organizing a ‘Generation Mash-up’ for the challenge. Set for May 21, the two-hour event is to include chair yoga, a Jeopardy-style game, a ’70s-themed photo booth and social time, for the students and seniors to get to know each other a little better.

Asked what the students will get out of the effort, Maddy McCrank said “new friends.”

Ethan Goad said “we can have pride in ourselves, that we helped out the community, made a better time for the seniors.”

“I’m excited to really brighten up their year with a different kind of vibe,” Goad added.

The students agreed they are no longer focused on the courthouse prize.

“I think all of us forgot (about the competition),” said Roman Ruediger-Fancy. “We just want to give them a fun day.”

Sears told PAN the project became “bigger than I thought.”

She said the students’ efforts will be judged by a panel that includes herself, White Rock Mayor Darryl Walker, Semiahmoo Community Safety Society president Darren Alexander and school principal Carol Davison.

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Tracy Holmes photo RCMP Const. Chantal Sears reviews lists compiled by one Grade 6/7 class.

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