TDSB students helping Haitian students go to school

News Jun 24, 2012 by Cynthia Reason Etobicoke Guardian

Some of Toronto's highest-risk students have banded together to help 850 of the world's most at-risk kids do what they used to take for granted - go to school everyday.

For more than a year, the five students in Serena Bufalino's Toronto District Secondary School class, located on the site of Thistletown Regional Centre in north Etobicoke, have held every imaginable fundraiser to build a school for the children of Canaan, Haiti.

"When I explained what was happening in Haiti, as soon as the kids heard that there are kids in the world that actually want to go to school but can't, they couldn't believe it," Bufalino said. "And they said to me, 'Ms. B, we need to do something to help them.'"

A year and 17 bake sales, samosa sales, penny drives, garage sales, movie days, and barbecue fundraisers later, the Haiti School Building Project has seen students from Bufalino's class and 15 others in the Toronto District School Board's Section 23 classrooms - a program for high-risk students with intensive care and treatment needs that cannot be met in a regular classroom - raise more than $23,000 towards the construction of a three-level, 850-pupil school in Canaan for elementary, high school and adult learners.

Canaan, a small city in Haiti located 12 km north of the capital of Port-au-Prince, was devastated as a result of the 2010 earthquake - its schools, like so many of its ramshackle buildings, reduced to rubble. Even more than two years later, thousands of displaced Haitians continue to live in tent structures in Canaan, struggling to survive without consistent access to water, food or electricity.

With assistance from the Third World Awareness organization, which is run by retired Toronto teacher/principal John Callaghan, Bufalino has now travelled to Canaan twice on behalf of her students in order to arrange the construction process of the new school.

"We hired six local men and they have been doing everything - and mainly with just their hands and a couple of shovels. It's unbelievable what they've accomplished," she said, noting that, so far, the foundation for the school has been built, and work will soon begin on the brickwork for the first level of the school. "It's going to be a massive school, but we're just beginning. We're going to keep plugging away - as the money comes in, we'll bring it down there and work on the site, then come back here and continue the fundraising."

To complete the school, Bufalino added, will cost about $150,000 - a towering figure her students aren't intimidated by in the least.

"You should see them - they're high-fiving each other every day. They're, like, 'look at us! We are heroes! We're awesome! We're amazing!' And we're talking about a group of kids who, at the beginning of the school year, had their heads down and barely spoke," Bufalino said of the 'dramatic' impact the project has had on her students. "Now every day it's been positive growth. They stand taller and their spirits are pumped because people are starting to pay attention to them and the good work they've been doing."

While there is not yet a completion date set for Canaan's TDSB sister school, 53 orphans have been able to kick-start their education with the help of Bufalino and her students. On her last trip to Haiti a few weeks ago, Bufalino met with an organization that runs a hospital in the village and arranged to use a portion of their building as a temporary classroom for the orphans.

"So we've got the 53 kids, we purchased their uniforms, and now everyday they're going to school," Bufalino said, noting she and her students frequently get sent pictures and videos of the learning that is taking place because of what they started.

Seeing how their hard work has paid off for the kids of Haiti, she added, has done wonders for her students' self-esteem: "The kids feel like heroes for the first time in their lives. And when they feel really good like that, it just snowballed to them doing their school work and just feeling like they're actually wanted and useful. It's been amazing."

TDSB students helping Haitian students go to school

At-risk youth at Toronto District Secondary School stand taller thanks to their fundraising initiatives

News Jun 24, 2012 by Cynthia Reason Etobicoke Guardian

Some of Toronto's highest-risk students have banded together to help 850 of the world's most at-risk kids do what they used to take for granted - go to school everyday.

For more than a year, the five students in Serena Bufalino's Toronto District Secondary School class, located on the site of Thistletown Regional Centre in north Etobicoke, have held every imaginable fundraiser to build a school for the children of Canaan, Haiti.

"When I explained what was happening in Haiti, as soon as the kids heard that there are kids in the world that actually want to go to school but can't, they couldn't believe it," Bufalino said. "And they said to me, 'Ms. B, we need to do something to help them.'"

A year and 17 bake sales, samosa sales, penny drives, garage sales, movie days, and barbecue fundraisers later, the Haiti School Building Project has seen students from Bufalino's class and 15 others in the Toronto District School Board's Section 23 classrooms - a program for high-risk students with intensive care and treatment needs that cannot be met in a regular classroom - raise more than $23,000 towards the construction of a three-level, 850-pupil school in Canaan for elementary, high school and adult learners.

Related Content

Canaan, a small city in Haiti located 12 km north of the capital of Port-au-Prince, was devastated as a result of the 2010 earthquake - its schools, like so many of its ramshackle buildings, reduced to rubble. Even more than two years later, thousands of displaced Haitians continue to live in tent structures in Canaan, struggling to survive without consistent access to water, food or electricity.

With assistance from the Third World Awareness organization, which is run by retired Toronto teacher/principal John Callaghan, Bufalino has now travelled to Canaan twice on behalf of her students in order to arrange the construction process of the new school.

"We hired six local men and they have been doing everything - and mainly with just their hands and a couple of shovels. It's unbelievable what they've accomplished," she said, noting that, so far, the foundation for the school has been built, and work will soon begin on the brickwork for the first level of the school. "It's going to be a massive school, but we're just beginning. We're going to keep plugging away - as the money comes in, we'll bring it down there and work on the site, then come back here and continue the fundraising."

To complete the school, Bufalino added, will cost about $150,000 - a towering figure her students aren't intimidated by in the least.

"You should see them - they're high-fiving each other every day. They're, like, 'look at us! We are heroes! We're awesome! We're amazing!' And we're talking about a group of kids who, at the beginning of the school year, had their heads down and barely spoke," Bufalino said of the 'dramatic' impact the project has had on her students. "Now every day it's been positive growth. They stand taller and their spirits are pumped because people are starting to pay attention to them and the good work they've been doing."

While there is not yet a completion date set for Canaan's TDSB sister school, 53 orphans have been able to kick-start their education with the help of Bufalino and her students. On her last trip to Haiti a few weeks ago, Bufalino met with an organization that runs a hospital in the village and arranged to use a portion of their building as a temporary classroom for the orphans.

"So we've got the 53 kids, we purchased their uniforms, and now everyday they're going to school," Bufalino said, noting she and her students frequently get sent pictures and videos of the learning that is taking place because of what they started.

Seeing how their hard work has paid off for the kids of Haiti, she added, has done wonders for her students' self-esteem: "The kids feel like heroes for the first time in their lives. And when they feel really good like that, it just snowballed to them doing their school work and just feeling like they're actually wanted and useful. It's been amazing."

TDSB students helping Haitian students go to school

At-risk youth at Toronto District Secondary School stand taller thanks to their fundraising initiatives

News Jun 24, 2012 by Cynthia Reason Etobicoke Guardian

Some of Toronto's highest-risk students have banded together to help 850 of the world's most at-risk kids do what they used to take for granted - go to school everyday.

For more than a year, the five students in Serena Bufalino's Toronto District Secondary School class, located on the site of Thistletown Regional Centre in north Etobicoke, have held every imaginable fundraiser to build a school for the children of Canaan, Haiti.

"When I explained what was happening in Haiti, as soon as the kids heard that there are kids in the world that actually want to go to school but can't, they couldn't believe it," Bufalino said. "And they said to me, 'Ms. B, we need to do something to help them.'"

A year and 17 bake sales, samosa sales, penny drives, garage sales, movie days, and barbecue fundraisers later, the Haiti School Building Project has seen students from Bufalino's class and 15 others in the Toronto District School Board's Section 23 classrooms - a program for high-risk students with intensive care and treatment needs that cannot be met in a regular classroom - raise more than $23,000 towards the construction of a three-level, 850-pupil school in Canaan for elementary, high school and adult learners.

Related Content

Canaan, a small city in Haiti located 12 km north of the capital of Port-au-Prince, was devastated as a result of the 2010 earthquake - its schools, like so many of its ramshackle buildings, reduced to rubble. Even more than two years later, thousands of displaced Haitians continue to live in tent structures in Canaan, struggling to survive without consistent access to water, food or electricity.

With assistance from the Third World Awareness organization, which is run by retired Toronto teacher/principal John Callaghan, Bufalino has now travelled to Canaan twice on behalf of her students in order to arrange the construction process of the new school.

"We hired six local men and they have been doing everything - and mainly with just their hands and a couple of shovels. It's unbelievable what they've accomplished," she said, noting that, so far, the foundation for the school has been built, and work will soon begin on the brickwork for the first level of the school. "It's going to be a massive school, but we're just beginning. We're going to keep plugging away - as the money comes in, we'll bring it down there and work on the site, then come back here and continue the fundraising."

To complete the school, Bufalino added, will cost about $150,000 - a towering figure her students aren't intimidated by in the least.

"You should see them - they're high-fiving each other every day. They're, like, 'look at us! We are heroes! We're awesome! We're amazing!' And we're talking about a group of kids who, at the beginning of the school year, had their heads down and barely spoke," Bufalino said of the 'dramatic' impact the project has had on her students. "Now every day it's been positive growth. They stand taller and their spirits are pumped because people are starting to pay attention to them and the good work they've been doing."

While there is not yet a completion date set for Canaan's TDSB sister school, 53 orphans have been able to kick-start their education with the help of Bufalino and her students. On her last trip to Haiti a few weeks ago, Bufalino met with an organization that runs a hospital in the village and arranged to use a portion of their building as a temporary classroom for the orphans.

"So we've got the 53 kids, we purchased their uniforms, and now everyday they're going to school," Bufalino said, noting she and her students frequently get sent pictures and videos of the learning that is taking place because of what they started.

Seeing how their hard work has paid off for the kids of Haiti, she added, has done wonders for her students' self-esteem: "The kids feel like heroes for the first time in their lives. And when they feel really good like that, it just snowballed to them doing their school work and just feeling like they're actually wanted and useful. It's been amazing."