One of my favourite things about my current school (among a few others that are pretty awesome - including the people I work with and my ADORABLE students) is the CAS Project. Today I went to a brunch that our school and parents put on to raise money for the CAS Project. And, no, I can't remember what CAS stands for (something to do with community service though) but I do know what they do and that's what I love. This group (primarily high school students) works to make the world better.
One of their projects that I have participated in is the Sunday visits to the Ankara Center for Rehabilitation. Most of the children at the center aren't from Ankara, but from outlying villages where there is little help for the mental and/or physical difficulties that these children are challenged with. So they come to this center and stay for a prescribed period of time (the mothers come with them to care for them around the clock) to get help during the week. On the weekends they are permitted to stay there, but there is nothing for them to do. So the kids in CAS go out there and spend time with them, playing games, doing simple art projects and just bringing a little brightness to their weeks. I've been, I see the impact it makes and it's huge. I love it. I get way more from it than I give and I know that the kids feel the same.
Another one of the projects is to go to Romania or another country hosting the Habitat for Humanity project. They go there, bring their cheerful selves, build relationships and a house for a family in need. I haven't gone with them but I've seen their pictures and heard their stories and I know that as much help and sunshine as they bring with them, they take so much more away.
Yet another one of their projects (their biggest one) is to help a school in a village in Turkey. They raise the money to have proper bathrooms installed, then they go there and give the school a mild make-over (paint etc), establish a library for the children (sometimes there are none), and to spend a week loving on the kids at that school by sharing activities, smiles and hugs. Again, I haven't gone but I've seen the pictures and heard the stories. It's incredible.
And what I love most about it is that the parents, teachers, staff, students and whole school embraces the CAS project. We use it in my classroom to give the kids a goal of community service to shoot for, and I am sure it's like that in other classrooms too. How wonderful to try to instill these children at every level with the concept of social responsibility and to show them how much better they make the lives of others and themselves through it.
Today was a great reminder of all of that.