Some of Canyon-Lister Elementary School's Grade 5/6 students who helped on the 'Pennies for Water' project.

Some of Canyon-Lister Elementary School's Grade 5/6 students who helped on the 'Pennies for Water' project.

Canyon-Lister students collecting pennies to build wells

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Before pennies vanish for good, Canyon-Lister Elementary School (CLES) students are collecting them in a “Pennies for Water” drive on behalf of Free the Children, an organization with a mission to create a world where all young people are free.

Pennies aren’t going to be used for much longer and it would be a great way to make a penny make a difference. Any pennies can be brought to CLES until April 26.

After she saw a commercial on TV about Free the Children, Grade 5 student Kalissa Bloodworth went straight to the website to get started, and brought the idea to school.

“My mom saw what I was doing and thought I could bring the idea to school,” she said. “My dad thought we could share the idea with friends and family and raise even more money.”

Free the Children believes that children have the right to live free, to go to school, to drink clean water, to be safe, to play, to live. It also believes that young people are powerful and that they can create change — which made it a suitable fundraiser for CLES students.

“I think this is important because you’re changing someone’s life forever and getting to know what these people go through and how I can fix it,” said Bloodworth.

Free the Children was founded by Craig Keilburger in 1995. He was 12 when he and 11 classmates to begin their fight against child labour. One morning, Craig was looking in the Toronto Star. He was looking for the comics but a story caught his eye. It was a story about a courageous boy about his own age named Iqbal.

Iqbal Masih was born in South Asia and was sold into slavery at the age of four. For six years he was chained to a carpet weaving loom. Iqbal’s story got out and his story spoke out for children’s rights. Sadly, Iqbal’s reputation also caught the attention of people who benefitted by child slavery. When he was only twelve, Iqbal Masih was killed for defending the rights of children.

What Craig Keilburger learned from Iqbal’s story was that “the bravest voice can live in the smallest body.” Craig felt he had to do something. Free the Children was born. The program continues to grow and includes We Day, camps that teach leadership skills to youth and help them become leaders in creating social change, school and education programs here and around the world, and volunteer programs where youth create local and global change.

“Every day more young people are free to achieve their fullest potential,” says www.freethechildren.com.

For more information, contact Laurel Ewashen at CLES at 250-428-4161.

—CANYON-LISTER ELEMENTARY SCHOOL