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Friday, 04 November 2016 08:00

Seven Persons students continue to gain invaluable experience

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A strong contingent from Seven Persons had the chance to attend WE Day at the Calgary Saddledome. A strong contingent from Seven Persons had the chance to attend WE Day at the Calgary Saddledome. Photo contributed

For a group of students from Seven Persons School, Oct. 26, 2016 will be a day they won’t soon forget and in 2016, they have had a lot of memorable moments.

Last school year’s Grade 5/6 class developed the idea of selling T-shirts in order to raise money for the family of one of the students whose mom has cancer, as well the Children’s Wish Foundation of Alberta and Hope for Haiti. In total from the funds raised, the Tanya Ellis family received $15,081; the Children’s Wish Foundation $10,000 and Hope for Haiti $3,810.
It was announced prior to the end of the school year in June, they were granted the opportunity to go to WE Day in Calgary and Oct. 26, they travelled to that city to take part in what is a national event.
The Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary hosted the WE Day with 16,000 frenzied students and teachers listening to motivational speakers as well as enjoying a high-end, glitzy stage show with entertainers and celebrities. The list included singers Paula Abdul, Brett Kissel, Lindsey Ell, Classified and Tyler Shaw, and Canadian celebrities Rick Hanson, Margaret Trudeau, and Chris Hadfield.
“There was a lot of positive energy,” explains teacher Deanna Dola.
“It was amazing ... It was celebrities describing to them how they can make a change (in their worlds) for the better.”
With comments such as lifechanging and “probably remember forever”, the students admit it was an awesome experience.
“It was a lot of fun; they shared some stories,” explained student Corban Burritt. “My dad died when I was four years old and one of the speakers talking about his grandpa and then when he died and what it meant — I could kinda relate to him.”
Mykah Obrigewitch was blown away by Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield.
“I just was so impressed by what he said; I really look up to him,” she said.
“There was 16,000 people at the same dance,” adds Kassidy Hart. “To see all of that (and the performers) was just great.”
Dola was thankful for the help supplied by Bill Yuill, a well known Medicine Hat philanthropist who donated the use of a bus to get the students to Calgary and back to Seven Persons.
The WE Movement was formed after 12-year-old Ontario native Craig Kielburger read a story about a Pakistani boy who was killed for speaking out about a social injustice in his country. Over time, he created a vision for trying to rally youths into contributing.
Along with his older brother Marc, Craig, who is now 34, has formed the organization Free the Children which helps empower, educate and organize youth to create ideas which will better their worlds.
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“To Live WE for Me is to believe that one person can change the world. We all have unique gifts to give, and when bonded together we build a movement that’s diverse and exciting,” reads the ME TO WE website. “Recognizing that there is no single solution to end poverty, brothers Craig and Marc Kielburger created Free The Children’s WE Villages, an innovative, holistic approach to development that provides access to five key pillars — education, clean water and sanitation, health care, food security, and alternative income — and empowers a community to lift itself out of poverty.”
For Tanya Ellis, whose family was helped by the students’ efforts and whose #TeamTanya became the rallying cry for the efforts, she was touched and honoured to be in Calgary with the students.
“My perspective as a parent has changed slightly since being diagnosed with cancer. I find myself watching my kids’ faces more, actually seeing the joy that bubbles out of them — regardless if it is on the volleyball court or in the Saddledome for WE Day, they exude joy in their eyes and face. It is something that isn’t fake or for show, it’s the twinkle in their eye that sparks excitement and pride,” Ellis says. “For the kids, this experience will last a lifetime. They will look back on this day with pure delight. It was a perfect combination of celebrating their amazing accomplishments along with the excitement of what can be done next. The possibilities are endless, the difficult part may be narrowing it down to one or two ideas. 
“Ultimately the message I took home from WE Day was a change of thinking ...  from ME to WE. One person can most definitely make a difference, but when you turn Me to WE, together we can create even bigger change locally or globally. Students were encouraged to think about the change they’d like to see in the world (or school, home or community) and they were encouraged to start today.”
The Seven Persons students have not stopped. Following the wind-up assembly at Seven Persons School in June, the students painted the bleachers and in mid-October they held a bottle drive to help pay for expenses for the Calgary event.
Bent adds they could be selling some bracelets in the near future and the Seven Person students are also trying to get food donations for the local food bank and volunteering at the Prairie Gleaners which dehydrates vegetables, packages them and the food product is sent off to needy countries.
Dola says there are some more ideas they have in the offing, but for now, they will continue to display and enact on what they already got a jumpstart on from the Oct. 26 messages: Me to We.
For Ellis, the trip to Calgary typified what the Seven Persons community and the school is all about.
“I want to make memories with my kids as much as possible. My hope is to cram a lifetime of memories into this one life. I am grateful for this experience. To be able to share this along with my son Trigger is an immense blessing,” Ellis explains. “I look forward to what life has in store next ... for myself, my children and the entire class ... anything is possible.”

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Ryan Dahlman

Managing Editor