(Described by Vivian Pich)
On March 21, 2013, five GANG members set forth in the blizzard, #YEGSTORM, to meet and assist in a classroom, grade 5/6, at Jackson Heights Elementary School. These students and master teacher, Karen Mosewich, would be creating African angels, as a culmination of their research on the countries that the Stephen Lewis Foundation supports.
Our first involvement with the students of this classroom was during Read-In Week in October of 2012. The books chosen gave students a glimpse of and a chance to converse about countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, about grandmothers, and the special needs of their global sisters. They heard about the work of the GANG in Edmonton, about the orphaned African children, and how the hearts and hands of Canadian grandmothers are reaching out to undertake meaningful and effective projects in 15 African nations through the Stephen Lewis Foundation.
By the grace of an engaged and globally aware teacher, we were able to together devise a program for her class. It would serve to encourage her students’ involvement, and address her own curriculum plans.
The students chose one African country (from among the Foundation-involved countries) to develop a report with subtopics and expectations outlined. This research paper was important as an indicator of their language arts research skills, their ability to express themselves in writing, and in developing their presentation skills in sharing their finished product. This work was also a valuable evaluation tool for their teacher.
The students accomplished their task over a period of time, with a variety and significant amount of learnings clearly demonstrated. The projects were ultimately proudly displayed in a school showcase.
The culminating activity was making African angels – the exciting and creative activity that proved to be both engaging and fun. With five GANG members as assistants (special thanks are due to Joyce Madsen, Jan McGregor, Judy Dube, Diane Stewart, and Vivian Pich), and some volunteer parents, the students spent a half-day creating angels. The extensive preliminary work done by Karen, their teacher, was paramount in the success of this endeavor.
The students’ angels turned out beautifully. Among the many creative designs and expressions was a set of “Triplet Angels”, identical in garb, but distinctive in bling. They were created by three boys who collaborated both in and out of school. They epitomized the genial and fun atmosphere of this creative day.
Now the angels will be sold to parents and, hopefully, at other community events. The students have a huge sense of pride and exhibited so much joy in being able to express their passion, global awareness, and engagement. They all recognize that they can and do have a personal hand in assisting African orphans and grandmothers.