Students from an International Baccalaureate (IB) school went to an inner-city agency to help other kids, but received an education and made new friends in return.

The children from St. Boniface School are developing an ongoing relationship with Crystal Kids. Last year, the students built a mountain of donated macaroni. This year, they constructed a skyscraper with 377 cans of donated soup. Both were hands-on activities and making the pyramid of soup was a math lesson in design.

The students call themselves H.E.R.O.s: Helping Everyone Respect Others.

Tessa, a St. Boniface student, said of the motto, “it’s important to know how to respect people.” Tessa had never been to the inner city before, but said, “Crystal Kids is a fun place to hang out.” She added, “These kids are awesome. So friendly and fun to hang out with.”

Miri Peterson, executive director for Crystal Kids Youth Centre, explained the centre feeds 60-65 kids a day. They serve two snacks and a meal after school and in the summer, they serve two meals and two snacks.

“The number one way out of poverty is education, but in poverty, it’s hard to concentrate on your education when you are hungry,” said Peterson. “These guys are like champions for us. Kids who would be peers [in any other situation] wanting to help other kids.”

Joy M, another St. Boniface student, said, “We wanted to help other kids who don’t have as much.”

Last year, Kris Werzun, the IB learning coach at St. Boniface School in Riverbend, started a leadership club. Students from Grades 3 to 6 came out in droves, and the true leaders stayed.

“The IB program is all about children taking action in every aspect of their schooling: to choose, act, reflect,” said Werzun. The children participating in the program were asked to be leaders and encouraged to explore what it means to be a leader.

Students thought about donating to the Food Bank, but Werzun encouraged them to do more research around their purpose. One of the students, now in Grade 7, said she wanted their group to be about “kids helping kids.” They dug a little deeper and asked themselves “what can we do?” They wanted to have a practical task.

Werzun was struck by their commitment to being hands-on in their donation. “That was impressive to me that they have that internal work ethic.”

Nicole Radke, front-line worker for Crystal Kids said, “It’s a really good experience to see these kids and it was nice they did the meal prep.”

Featured Image: James, who helped re-create the skyscraper of soup, called the donation “good.” St. Boniface donated 377 cans of soup. | Rebecca Lippiatt