“It has always been my firm belief that little hands can make a big difference in the world,” says Nicholas Taranto, the media teacher at PS/IS 235 in Flatbush, Brooklyn.
Students at the school affirmed his belief by raising $9,887 to help the people of the Bahamas recover from Hurricane Dorian, which struck in early September. Motivated by the expectation that they should not only be smart but also kind, the students waged their successful campaign for the UFT Disaster Relief Fund with the help of Taranto, the project’s coordinator.
To foster kindness, the school begins each school year with a community-based philanthropic project. At an assembly program, students learned about the catastrophic damage caused by Hurricane Dorian and galvanized efforts to raise relief money.
Among their activities, they solicited cash pledges from sponsors for participating in a schoolwide walk. The 5th-grade Ambassadors Squad made biweekly announcements to update students on the campaign’s progress, all part of the community-building activities to bring staff, parents and students together.
Parent Erica Branford summed up the importance of the student activism.
“The Bahamian relief campaign, along with the many other service campaigns that PS 235 promotes, educates my son about what is going on in the world,” she said. “It also helps him to develop compassion and teaches him how to be an active participant in finding solutions.”