As part of their 6th Form enrichment programme, a group of Year 12 girls at Croydon High have chosen to support the charity Free the Children this year and it has proved to be a life changing experience, both for them and for the children they have been able to help.
Free the Children was started by 12-year-old Craig Kielburger and with the help from his older brother Marc and his team, he set out to free children and their families from poverty and exploitation. From here, this unique Canadian charity developed into operating worldwide and the charity now pursues collaborative programs both domestically and internationally. Free the Children strives to educate and empower young people through its programs such as WE Schools, WE Day and Adopt a Village. Adopt a Village provides sustainable support for community development in five ways; Education, Clean water & Sanitation, Health, Agriculture & Food Security and Alternative income & Livelihood.
The Croydon High Free the Children group, led by Head of English Donna Edmonds who has been a passionate supporter of the charity for a number of years, have raised a significant amount of money this year and an even greater degree of awareness amongst the young people in their own school and beyond. As part of their work, the group has enthusiastically supported efforts of one of their own members, who, prior to her involvement with Free the Children, was already travelling to France every weekend to deliver vital provisions to the migrant camps in Calais. Ambreen Khan in Year 12 had been going about this work quietly with her own family, but her involvement with Free the Children gave her a platform to reach out for support from the school community. The girls collected toiletries, warm clothes and wind up torches and ran an eye-catching poster campaign encouraging girls to donate packs of sanitary towels for the women in the camps.
With their innovative fundraising activities and imaginative ideas to generate support, the group was recognised for being a significant contributor to the charity and were invited to attend the recent WE day concert at Wembley Arena, with 12,000 empowered young people who travelled from all corners of the UK to celebrate the charity’s achievements in raising funds and consciousness.
Free the Children embraces 3.2 million young people around the globe, who have initiated a ‘kindness revolution’ to reach out and embrace those in need in their local, national and international community. In the UK, primary and secondary children initiated and delivered 2500 projects in 2015 that ranged from bake sales and money collection to marches, sleep-outs, and in the case of Croydon High School, travelling to Calais to support children affected by the refugee crisis. WE day mixed celebrity speakers, members of the royal family and musical acts with inspiring accounts from individuals who have overcome physical, psychological or social difficulties to emerge stronger and more powerful active participants in our society.
Donna Edmonds has been overwhelmed by the response from the girls at Croydon High. She said, “ WE Day reminds us that we are all imagineers: empowered and compassionate connected humans who dare to dream big and imagine the possibilities of those aspirations. WE Day and Free the Children is a movement making tangible change and difference across the globe, and we are so proud of the contribution that our girls have made to the cause at Croydon High School.
On Wednesday 23rd March the Free the Children Group welcomed Alice Mellar from the charity to present a large cheque and to share some of their thoughts about what being part of this organisation has meant to them.
Some quotes from the girls:
'After this day I want to make charity and compassion a bigger part of my everyday life. I want to spread happiness. I want to feed the minds and stomachs of young people around the world and I feel like I now have the resources to do this. Free the Children has made ME realise how powerful WE can be.' Carlotta
'Free the Children has inspired me to make a positive contribution to society. Working with Free the Children has given me joy when we have been successful and determination when we have not. I have learnt that small contributions are important in creating change and that it’s from working together that we will help to lift people out of suffering.' Sophie
Since joining the Free the Children enrichment group at CHS I have found that my appreciation for the things in my life has increased. I realised quite how fortunate I am and that I want to make an impact, no matter how small. Free the Children has helped me to make this impact and feel as if I am helping to make this world a better place.' Ellice