Day of Action 2018

Day of Action 2018
Day of Action 2018

            The Lafayette Park International Elementary School “Action Heroes” used their creativity, and their muscles, to help the Kokomo community during their 2nd annual Day of Action.

            One of Lafayette Park’s mottos is “think globally, act locally”, which is a principle of the International Baccalaureate program that encourages students to explore how they can impact their personal surroundings and local community while thinking about larger societal concerns. This annual service project fits with that motto. Lafayette Park students became “Action Heroes” for the day as they worked to make the Kokomo community a better place.

            The 2018 event expanded from last year, Lafayette Park Assistant Principal Nicole Geary explained. During the inaugural event, Lafayette Park students came together to improve their school grounds.

            “We noticed the sense of pride the students displayed by the end of that service learning day, and realized this is something we wanted to continue and make a tradition at Lafayette Park,” Mrs. Geary noted. “As a staff, we decided that we were ready to expand this school year to serve the Kokomo community.”

            Lafayette Park partnered with the United Way of Howard County for the 2018-2019 event to focus on what students could do to help several non-profit organizations in the Kokomo community. United Way representatives provided Lafayette Park students a list of community need, along with ways for students to help meet those needs. Each class at Lafayette Park had the opportunity to choose which project they wished to complete.

            For the animal-loving 4th-graders at Lafayette Park, the decision was simple. They wanted to help the Kokomo Humane Society. The 4th-grade classes used tennis balls, plastic bottles, and cloth scraps they collected to create chew toys for dogs at the animal shelter.

            “I grew up with dogs my whole life, so I wanted to do something to help dogs who need a home,” explained 4th-grader Cameron Parks, who designed a toy to look like a ghost.

            Taniya Jones loved that she was able to do something creative and help animals at the same time. She and her friend, Madison Guire, created a toy that looked like Princess Leia from Star Wars.

            Ultimately, the goal of the project was to make dogs awaiting adoption feel special, Taniya explained.

            “We’re helping animals who don’t have many of their own toys,” Taniya said.

            Madison added: “We believe this project is helping our society.”

            While the 4th-graders made dog toys, the Lafayette Park 3rd-graders assembled in a large room down the hall to complete several projects. Some students prepared Buddy Bags for the Kokomo Urban Outreach, while others sorted books for the United Way’s 75 in 5 initiative. Shontiara Williams and some of her classmates worked on a project for veterans at Jackson Street Commons.

            “We are helping veterans by giving them soap and other hygiene items,” Shontiara explained. “We also are making cards to put inside every hygiene kit. We write nice messages and draw hearts on the cards.”

            How does the service project make Shontiara feel?

            “It makes me feel happy because I like helping the community,” Shontiara noted. “Really, I like helping anyone.”

            Preschool students at Lafayette Park colored “Thank You” cards that United Way will send to senior citizens, as well as veterans in the Kokomo community. Kindergarten students spread new mulch on the Lafayette Park playground.

            First-graders designed “Thank You” cards for local veterans, who are served through United Way’s Mission United program, which offers full case coordination for veterans and their family members. Lafayette Park 2nd-graders wrote encouraging messages and positive affirmations for people who have experienced homelessness in Howard County. The notes were attached to suckers and will be offered to clients at Coordinated Assistance Ministries as they begin a new chapter in their lives.

            Fifth-graders worked with representatives of Mental Health America to care for a nearby community garden. Students dug holes to plant bushes, raked mulch, harvested potatoes, and used sidewalk chalk to write encouraging messages on the nearby trailhead.

            United Way of Howard County offered volunteers to help students with projects throughout the school day.

            United Way of Howard County President and CEO Abbie Smith noted: “It is never too early to teach our youth the importance of volunteer work. We [United Way] love seeing children working together to help build a stronger community for the future of Howard County.”

            Mrs. Geary added that Lafayette Park’s service-learning initiative also has an important academic component.

            “As an IB school, Lafayette Park’s curriculum is focused on teaching the whole student,” Mrs. Geary concluded. “Our goal is for our IB students to excel academically while growing into caring, active participants in a global society. Service learning is a significant component in the IB philosophy. By taking meaningful and intentional action, students develop confidence in their ability to make a positive change in the world. Student-initiated action becomes a powerful part of the learning process.”

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