A group of Barrie kindergarten students has raised more than $500 — and counting — in support of The War Amps.
The Hyde Park Public School youngsters started learning about prosthetics back in the fall, when they participated in the Terry Fox Run, and learned about the Canadian icon, explained Lindsay Klassen, who, along with her teaching partner Cheryl Jacques, continued to educate the class on the importance of inclusion and diversity throughout the school year.
“They were just so passionate about it and were building prosthetics out of STEM pieces… then we moved to the Winter Olympics and really focused on the Paralympics,” Klassen told BarrieToday.
The class then connected with the War Amps, which brought to light that although the government covers the cost of one prosthetic, families are typically left covering the cost of the additional prosthetics as children grow.
“We have a student in our class who was born differently and we are celebrating her and others by raising money and awareness for the War Amps,” Klassen said.
The class began their 'Bring the Change, Be the Change" campaign on May 9, and completed it May 20 by collecting, sorting and counting all the coins and donations from around the school.
“My class literally dug into their own piggy banks. You could see the joy on my kids' faces. It was just beautiful,” Klassen said.
She’s anticipating the tally to equal at least a few hundred dollars once they’re done counting.
“That’s pretty amazing just from little coins from people’s garages and cars. We are super proud of them and proud to celebrate inclusivity and diversity," Klassen added.
As kindergarten teachers, both she and Jacques love to teach, but more importantly they say they love “making good humans.”
"I feel like that’s my job as a teacher. Academics is wonderful, but if we make them great humans and great leaders of tomorrow… that’s really what it’s all about,” Klassen said. “Even that aspect of 'Bring the Change, Be the Change' — we want them to remember these things and to be the change in the world.
"They’re little sponges so to see them coming in and literally emptying their piggy banks, and some saying they’d been saving for Great Wolf Lodge! If we can instill in them some of these virtues (now) what great humans these little ones will be," she added.
"I was overwhelmed with the love, joy and support."
The whole community stepped up to support the fundraiser, she said, adding her class made announcements and visited other classrooms to help bring awareness throughout the entire south-end school, which is located on The Queensway.
“We have this little girl who is going into Grade 1 next year and we want her to be celebrated and loved for who she is, not noticed because she is different,” said Klassen. “We want her to be celebrated for being special and not excluded for being different.”
Seeing how her own class — as well as the entire school community — stepped up to support this initiative brought both Klassen and Jacques to tears, she admitted.
“You see how much they get something, and if they get it, it just becomes part of their everyday living now. That will now just be a part of their soul because they just get it, and to know we can raise these little humans to be kind, caring and inclusive.
"I feel (they’re) going far in life.”