Last Friday morning at Orion Alternative Elementary School, the atmosphere was buzzing with children’s excitement for Spring Break, while teachers and parents were making last minute preparations for the school’s walk – a – thon. The hallways were alive with colorful posters made by the students announcing the event with little stick figures drawn below walking hand-in-hand that gave meaning to what the walk- a – thon was all about; to raise funds for Matonyok Primary School in Kenya for textbooks and classroom supplies. The energy could be felt from the hallways to the playground. Once the bell rang, children, teachers and parents dashed to the playground for a motivational assembly before finally starting on the routes they were assigned. To simulate the 10mile walking distance that many African children generally take to walk to school, students in grades 3 to 5 walked four laps equal to 1/10 of the 10mile walking distance while the Kindergarteners to 2nd grade students walked 10 laps over a shorter distance.
The walk-a- thon was Orion’s fifth fundraiser for Asante Africa Foundation and it took weeks to prepare, which explained all the hype and buzz it created. Cheza Nami Foundation’s interactive school assembly had students and teachers dancing to African music, while creating cultural awareness and rallying the children about the goal of the walk-a-thon. Teachers collaborated on the creation of the walk-a-thon route map and nearly 40 parents volunteered to coordinate the event. From directing the children in the right routes to donating cakes as snacks for all the participants, the parents were part of the backbone that pulled the event together. They were ecstatic, motivated and ready to roll up their sleeves to lend a hand in any way. It was truly a remarkable fete of fun, hard work and preparation that involved the entire school community.
Over the years, Orion has built a partnership with Matonyok where students from both schools have shared letters and pictures to foster friendships across borders. “It gives the kids the feeling of connectedness” as Jennifer Loewen, a teacher from Orion stated, giving the children more reason to participate in the walk-a-thon.
The walk – a – thon ended on a high note with children taking off for Spring Break and donations pouring in that totaled nearly $3,000. If there is one piece of advice that Jennifer Loewen would offer, it would be “Have an awareness to look outside yourself.” She adds there is an importance of being a global citizen, particularly in being aware of other people’s needs. Asante Africa Foundation is grateful for Orion’s continued support. Orion’s walk-a –thons are inspiring younger generations to give back to global communities.
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