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Grades 7/8: Eagle Fund Changemakers Build Music Wall for Therapeutic Gardens Initiative

In 2002, eleven Graland alumni (from the classes of 1992-94) had a common goal of creating an organization to benefit local nonprofits making a difference in the community. Recognizing that they could make a larger impact by banding together their resources, rather than giving individually, these former Graland students established the Eagle Fund, which has not only supported many organizations in the Denver community, but encouraged fellow Eagles to get involved. 
Inspired by this story, in 2019, Head of Middle School Marti Champion worked with several of the original organization's founding members to bring the impact and lessons of the Eagle Fund to the next generation of Graland students. "I began meeting with Jon-Erik Borgen '92 and Ryan O'Shaughnessy '93 to create an opportunity to involve Middle School students in the decision-making process of granting funds to local non-profit organizations. Knowing how this kind of experience could impact these kids, I created the Eagle Fund Changemakers student group with their blessing." 

Over the years, seventh and eighth graders who have joined the Eagle Fund Changemakers have gained invaluable experiences in stewardship, collaboration, and responsibility. A shining example is this year's group of changemakers who have been working all year to support Denver Urban Gardens (DUG), a relationship that last year's cohort established by adopting a garden known as "The Blue Spruce Garden." What's even more special about this particular garden is that it's intentionally located outside a series of transitional homes run by the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless. This garden, as well as several others, are a part of DUG's "Therapeutic Garden Initiative," which seeks to curate spaces that promote healing, growth, and connection, especially for children and families "who have undergone trauma, possess unique emotional needs, or seek sensory enrichment." In addition to last year's Eagle Fund Changemakers work of adopting and caring for the Blue Spruce Garden, this year's cohort was approached by DUG to construct a music wall for the space. Over the years, studies have shown that music therapy can be used as a form of treatment for depression, stress, and anxiety - a perfect match for a therapeutic-driven garden.

Following this request, in addition to maintaining the garden, the Eagle Fund Changemakers spent the rest of the year constructing a music wall (see photos) in the Gates Invention & Innovation Lab with the help of Ms. Champion, Mrs. Goski (Graland's Director of Development), Mr. Twarogowski (Charles C. Gates Director of Innovative Learning), Mr. Chavez (Innovation Specialist), Mr. Ianni (Maintenance Technician), and special guest, Ms. Champion's dad! Using Graland's design thinking process, students empathized with people who would be using the music wall, defined the problem that the music wall would be solving, ideated strategies to solve the problem, prototyped a solution, and put the final touches on the project to improve their design, which will be unveiled and installed in the Blue Spruce Garden on May 9. Incredible job making a difference in the community, changemakers! 

Graland Country Day School

Graland Country Day School is a private school in Denver, Colorado, serving students in preschool, kindergarten, elementary, and middle school. Founded in Denver in 1927, Graland incorporates a rich, experiential learning approach in a traditional classroom setting, emphasizing the development of globally and socially conscious leaders who excel academically.