Tuesday, May 1, 2012

amazing kids doing amazing things.

Sometimes when I say I'm a high school teacher, people respond by sighing and saying: "Well, I don't know how you do it," and then often say something about how I must be a saint to deal with today's teenagers. I usually just smile and say: "I really love my job. I really do."

The truth is, even I am surprised how much I love and am impressed by my students.  I mean, I have some stellar kids.  I could tell you about so many of them, how smart and witty they are and what impressive things they do.  The old cliche about teaching (I learn way more from my students than they do from me) is so true.  Today I'm going to tell you about two of my girls who graduated last year and the projects they are involved in to better the world.  They are both raising money for important issues and they are such remarkable kids, that I wanted to help them spread the word.

First, meet Abby.

I know.  She's adorable.  The quickest way I could tell you a little about Abby is to say that besides the fact that she is bright and hardworking, did everything she was supposed to do, and always smiled, is that Abby was the kid I always looked to when I was worried that someone was going to get left out in class.  You know when you tell your class to get into groups, and there is one girl who doesn't naturally fit into any of the groups? When that happened, I could just give Abby a look, she'd nod back, and she'd scoot her chair over and include the kid.  That's Abby.

Now Abby is a freshman at Colby College and she is volunteering as a fellow for the Community Water Solutions in Ghana this June. 

Today, 1 in 8 people around the world lack access to safe drinking water.
In northern Ghana, half of the 1.8 million residents lack access to improved sources of drinking water. Due largely to this lack of access to safe water, 20% of children under five in northern Ghana are suffering from diarrheal disease.
Community Water Solutions is a not-for-profit social enterprise that partners with rural communities in developing countries to establish sustainable water treatment businesses. These businesses are owned and operated by the communities that they serve, and use simple, affordable technologies to enable the treatment, distribution and storage of clean, safe drinking water. The maintenance and operation of these water treatment businesses is funded by revenue from the sale of drinking water, while the capital necessary to establish them is donated by CWS. To date, CWS has successfully implemented water treatment business in 36 communities in northern Ghana, providing reliable sources of clean water to over 22,000 people.

What makes the CWS idea new and innovative is that CWS implements for-profit water businesses that are owned and operated by the communities CWS serves and use low-cost local technologies. This combination empowers people in rural areas to take control of their own water quality. As a result, CWS is uniquely positioned to provide a sustainable source of safe drinking water in rural areas. For three weeks this June, Abby will be working in northern Ghana along with 25 other fellows, where she will be responsible for implementing a CWS water business in a new village.  
Abby is responsible for raising a substantial amount of money. 

 If you are inspired to help Abby, donations can be made on her fundraising website or checks can be made out to Community Water Solutions (with Abby Lebowitz written in the "memo" portion) and sent to:

Community Water Solutions 
46 Ledgetree Rd.
Medfield, MA 02052 ______________________________________________________________________
Next up is Holly.  First check her out:
When you see Holly standing there with her Camelbak on a hiking trip to Peru, you can't see how sick Holly has been with Crohn's Disease and how much she had to overcome just to make it through high school.  The reality of Holly's health and the amount of surgeries, medications, procedures, and hospital time this child has had to endure would not seem to mesh with her completely upbeat personality and her unstoppable smile.  She was such a model of perseverance to all of my other students.  Holly would come back to my class after a stint in the hospital and apologetically ask for an extension on her essay.  She would laugh and joke and hold her head high, and I'm not exaggerating when I say that not for one single second did I ever see her feeling sorry for herself.  Not once.  

That is so Holly.  Instead of complaining about Crohn's, she educates and fundraises for Crohn's.  

Holly is an education major at University of Maine at Farmington, and aside from having a great first year at college, she was funded on an amazing trip this Spring when she joined a group called IDEAS (Intestinal Disease Education and Awareness Society)to hike the Inca Trail in Peru.  The idea behind this group is to spread awareness about Intestinal Diseases through travel and adventure.  Their motto is "Changing attitude with altitude."  You can read more about Holly's incredible trip here.
Holly is fundraising for the Take Steps Walk, like she did last year (pictured below at graduation). Donations can be made in Holly's honor here.  Holly's dedication to the Take Steps Walk is because she wants to help find a cure for Crohn's, but also that she wants to make sure people who suffer from Crohn's aren't ashamed or feel that Crohn's is something they have to hide. 

Thank you for reading and considering donations to either Abby's or Holly's fundraising efforts.  I think you can understand why I am so proud of them and honored to have been a small part of their lives.
I am so lucky.


kristin marie said...

I think that's why I always loved doing Amnesty International - it let me see this side of students I never got to see when I was trying to keep them speaking Spanish. Oh yeah, and even if she doesn't know it yet, Holly's going to be a Spanish teacher ... :)

Yo Momma Runs said...

I love that you love the heck out of the kids you teach. It was always one of my secret (or not so secret, just not fulfilled) dreams to teach high school kids. They are aware and able to make a difference in the world, and they are searching for their unique way of doing it. Love them.

Just found your blog through the outdoor mom blog contest thingamabob. Can't wait to read more!

Yo Momma Runs said...

And I have a sister in Kennebunk. Go Maine! Any great (by great I mean flat) marathons in Maine?

Emilie said...

Go Maine is right! Yes, there is the Maine Marathon in Portland in October that isn't too hilly. And Sugarloaf in the mountains has a net down hill... that's in May. Come run! Thanks for the comments!