What does it mean to be an engaged citizen and thoughtful leader? To know, you have only to look at four fourth-grade girls whose passion for helping disaster victims was turned into a Lower School event that raised more than $1,500 for Bahama hurricane relief.
"Benefit for the Bahamas" organizers Greta Borgen, Alden Carlson, Addison Reed and Eva Ridenour wanted to make sure people don't forget the struggles faced by the survivors of Dorian, a category 5 hurricane that devastated the islands in 2019. Their goal was to raise both awareness and needed funds.
“When I saw the news on TV it looked like they were getting hit hard,” remembers Addison. “I felt bad and wanted to help.”
The students developed an idea for an “educational obstacle course” and worked with their teachers and peers to host the event for students in Grades K-4. Through interactive stations, participants completed challenges while learning about the hardships facing hurricane victims. Some of the activities reflected the tasks of looking through debris to recover belongings, rescuing people stranded in water, and managing without electricity. At the February event, the gym was packed with students eager to support the aid effort and get a better understanding of how a hurricane impacts a community. Donations were accepted but not required to participate.
“These children inspired a school full of students to make a difference,” said Ms. St. John, Grade 4 teacher. “I get teary thinking of their commitment and potential.”
To add to the girls’ experience, Graland parent Megan Bee connected the students with the Andrew and Heather Prosa, Bahamians who were displaced after losing their home and business in the disaster. In a phone call with students, the Prosas told vivid stories of perching on top of furniture to avoid being electrocuted in their home, showering in the rain, and how they resorted to raiding vacant homes in the area for food, water, and gasoline to power their generator. Hurricane Dorian caused as much as $3.4 billion in losses and, with island residents still without clean water and adequate housing, experts suggest it could take up to five years to recover from the catastrophe.
“I learned that it’s important to donate to an organization that will really use the money to help,” shared Addison.
“We are so thankful to be a part of a school community where we have great teachers and leaders to help steward these types of transformational activities for our kids,” said Jon-Erik Borgen, a Graland parent. “This project will serve as a foundational bedrock for the four girls as they begin a lifelong journey of helping others and being thoughtful, global citizens.
Graland Country Day School is a private school in Denver, Colorado, serving students in preschool, kindergarten, elementary, and middle school. Founded in Denver in 1924, Graland incorporates a rich, experiential learning approach in a traditional classroom setting, emphasizing the development of globally and socially conscious leaders who excel academically.