Eleven Waimea Canyon Middle School students gathered at their school’s parking lot on Saturday and went to work washing cars for a good cause.
And in three hours, with the help of teacher Meghan Tracey and helper Andrea Kiser, 13 sets of hands raised more than $250 in support of global girls’ education.
It was a project of the WCMS’s 20% Time class, which is a mandatory class for all students in which they focus on their choice of 17 global issues and then take steps toward making a difference.
Those 17 issues are part of the United Nations’ sustainable development goals, and are meant to inspire individuals to help make the planet better. Some of the global goals include eliminating poverty and hunger, increasing the availability and quality of healthcare, focusing on clean water and sanitation, and addressing renewable energy and climate action.
Classes focus on two aspects of the goals: why they’re issues and what students can do about them.
Tracey’s class initially chose to study gender equality, but their conversations soon expanded to many other connected topics.
“They related more to child marriage than talking about the gender gap in pay,” Tracey said. “That’s kind of where we started, and we ended up deciding education would help eliminate child marriage and take care of other goals.”
Part of the project is fundraising for a related cause, and the 20% Time class chose the Malala Fund, a foundation that supports girls’ education across the world.
The foundation was started by Nobel Peace Prize recipient and Pakastan-born Malala Yousafzai, who at 15 years old was speaking out publicly in support of girls’ education.
In 2012 she was shot in the head. She survived and continued to speak out for girls’ rights to be in school, and she started the Malala Fund.
Seventh-grader Hi‘ilani Silva and eighth-grader Jazzy Sablan have taken on the positions as spokeswomen for their 20% Time class, and said that story made an impact.
“She was shot for standing up to get educated,” Sablan said. “I chose this topic because I want equal rights for both genders.”
Tracey said in addition to being a relatable topic for the students, getting more girls in schools worldwide will help to eliminate many of the other goals on that UN list — eliminating poverty, embracing economic growth, healthcare and gender equality, and increasing sustainability.
Throughout the semester, students have watched movies related to girls’ education. After the fundraiser, they’re welcoming representatives from the YWCA into their classroom to talk about aspects of healthy relationships.
Some, like Sablan and Silva, will continue their research on the project into next semester as well, and are already making connections to do a locally focused fundraiser to promote girls’ education and equality.
“Every girl should be in school,” Silva said. “I’m definitely going to be in this class again next semester.”
Jessica Else, environment reporter, can be reached at 245-0452 or email@example.com.