Community Outreach #2
Just before Christmas, Marie Galophe agreed to have another go at making the trail mix bags with her La Premiere Ecole pre-school class. She did do a batch for us back in early October and wrote a beautiful blog describing the activity. So In December she decided to do it again as a Christmas activity. She did write another blog and I would love to you read what she had to say. A much different experience than the last one. It is a touching story, I hope you will take the time to have a read. Here is what she had to say: On Consent and How it Drives People
When Lin Gennutt, the general manager of Regina Food for Learning reached out to me at the end of November to set up another workshop at Ma Première École Preschool, it was clear that I needed to find a powerful incentive to get not only the parents and guardians, but also the children, involved, to renew everyone’s interest for this activity.
Indeed, two months earlier, in October, as we celebrated Thanksgiving and learned about gratitude, I organized three workshops with Regina Food for Learning, involving all three groups of students we have at Ma Première École. A total of 24 toddlers, aged 3 or 4, worked hard to assemble and decorate 80 trail mix bags that were then distributed throughout the community. Two parents managed to come assist us.
This time, instead of using the workshops as a learning activity imposed upon the children as something they had to do in order to learn something, I set it up as a goal. At the beginning of December, I created a mural in the classroom representing a journey. It started in our school, and led toward a train station. The train would take us to an airport, where a plane would then help us to reach northern Canada. From there, we would sail all the way to the North Pole.
The idea was that we would learn about shapes and means of transportation while also travelling throughout December all the way to the North Pole. Once there, we would have our Christmas party and, who knows, maybe meet Santa. During the second week of December, I sent out a formal invitation to our Christmas party to the parents, along with an explanatory booklet.
The booklet introduced Regina Food for Learning and their mission, and also contained their December newsletter. I provided details on the scenario of the party and its purpose: the children would come to class, reach the North Pole and find Santa’s house. The house would be empty, but Santa would have left a letter for them.
The letter would ask the children if they wanted to help Santa get ready for Christmas. He would tell them that he needed to make trail mix bags for less fortunate children who were relying on him for a Christmas treat. So, the plan was that we would make the trail mix bags only if the children consented to help.
For a teacher and party coordinator, this was a big leap of faith, but it also created a certain momentum in this busy time of the year. The anticipation of going to the North Pole and maybe seeing Santa built up slowly but surely, and the kids talked a lot about it at home. Finally, the excitement was such that everyone got on board, including parents and guardians, in all three groups.
So, there we were, me holding my breath throughout each party, wondering what was going to happen: would the children play along and say yes? What would I do if they didn’t? Was I going to end up making all the trail mix bags by myself after school? With butterflies in my stomach, I led them to the North Pole. Once we arrived, we pretended to freeze a little there, then found Santa’s house and his letter. And the children said “yes”! All of them!
In December, as we celebrated Christmas, I organized three parties involving all three groups of students we have at Ma Première École Preschool. A total of 24 toddlers worked hard to assemble 140 trail mix bags that were then distributed throughout the community. Thirty-three mothers, fathers, grandmothers, grandfathers, step-mothers, and baby brothers managed to come assist us.
And indeed, it was the busiest time of the year and as it is meant to be, we came together as one family from different horizons and backgrounds to celebrate together, bound by our consent to give back. Thank you again, Regina Food for Learning, for helping us to grow stronger as a community. Thank you to all the amazing, generous parents and guardians who rose to the occasion and made this Christmas party an amazing one.
Marie Galophe, Ph.D.
Ma Première École Preschool teacher