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Bronx students give back: Kids helping Flint’s water crisis and their local community

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Students from The Walter Damrosch School in the Bronx are doing amazing things to help their local community and greater society. By participating in the “Lead 2 Feed” program, the students are part of a greater network of young philanthropists. The student leadership program has attracted more than one million students in 5,000 schools and clubs across the country.

The “Lead 2 Feed” Student Leadership Program gives students opportunities to learn in an experiential manner — outside the classroom. The students also work to meet their own community’s needs through project management, decision-making, and teamwork. The program is based on the leadership principles from the book “Taking People with You” by David Novak (Co-Founder, Former Chairman and CEO of Yum! Brands) and is impacting students and New York City in an impactful way. Learn 2 Feed gives students the opportunity to lead, create, and implement team projects designed to meet a need in their community. It also helps to fill a gap in middle and high school education by providing an innovative leadership program.

Its latest project is aimed at helping those impacted by the water crisis in Flint, Mich. To aid those in Flint, students from the school decided to focus on a sustainability project that uses recycling as a way to collect donations for clean water. And aside from this project, they have also made efforts to assist their own community, meeting the needs of fellow New Yorkers by volunteering at a local soup kitchen and holding a coat drive.

I spoke to the students’ teacher, Dr. Latasha Jones, who has worked at the Jennings Street school for the past 5 years. This group of Bronx students are focused on service learning. As a teacher, Dr. Jones is providing her students with the opportunity to learn outside the classroom while working to meet community needs.

Shnieka Johnson: When did the Damrosch School begin working with Lead 2 Feed?

Dr. Latasha Jones: I started the Lead 2 Feed Student Leadership Program four years ago at the Damrosch School.

SJ: What are the ages of the students participating?

LJ: The students participating in the program are between the ages of 11 and 15 years old.

SJ: Are the projects student-designed and led?

LJ: Yes, all projects are student-designed and led. The students are provided with graphic organizers that help form and shape their ideas. My job is to help guide, prompt, and keep them on the right track. There are times where I may make suggestions, but all students must vote on anything that we do.

SJ: What is the format for the projects? One-time or repeated visits?

LJ: I follow the 10 lessons that are provided by Lead 2 Feed. The students work together in their instructional groups to complete the activities that are given to them. Some lessons we have to review more than one time to ensure that everyone agrees on the work that they have completed. We have to make sure at all times that all of the groups agree on what assignment they choose to complete. We always want to make sure that everyone’s voice is heard and thoughts are included in our projects.

SJ: Why Flint in particular?

LJ: One day during a lesson, one of my students made a correlation after reading the book “A Long Walk To Water,” about the water crisis in Flint. He just stated to the whole class that he knows of “a state that has a problem with water.” I asked if he knew the name of the state or letter it began with. He said, “F” (in this case he meant Flint, the city). Then he replied, “I don’t remember the name.” I then asked if someone would like to help him, and they did.

SJ: Have you seen a change in students participating?

LJ: Yes, I can honestly say I always see a change in the students. My students have emerged as leaders, creating service learning projects by taking ownership in what they do. You are able to see the passion and eagerness to do more and help others become better. And, they have grown academically, [and they have] developed critical-thinking and social skills as well.

SJ: Any upcoming projects?

LJ: Currently we are collecting cans and water bottles. Soon we well be making a list and collecting items that are needed for the residents of Flint.

If you would love to donate, please contact Dr. Jones by e-mail: ljones342@schools.nyc.gov. You can follow the Feeding Angels on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.

Shnieka Johnson is an education consultant and freelance writer. She is based in Manhattan where she resides with her husband and son. Contact her via her website: www.shniekajohnson.com.

Posted 12:00 am, April 11, 2017
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