On Saturday afternoon, the incoming sixth graders at held an event to reunite before school starts, and to kick off the community service project.
The event was a 3-POP, 3 Points on Purpose, event and Co-Director Paula LaJoie said that the Saturday before school starts is picked intentionally and the kids can reunite, get through some of the jitters, and start the first day as a unified team.
This year, the class chose to “Help a Hero” by raising funds, and support, for someone in the military who has been injured in the line of duty while serving his or her country. Army SFC Micah Welintukonis, who was on his third tour of duty, was injured on July 9 while serving in Afghanistan and is the service member the class will be helping.
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In the months of September through November, the class will have the opportunity to help Welintukonis, a combat paramedic and volunteer EMT at the . He is currently at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, MD, and while his recovery is promising, he will need to remain hospitalized for some time – possibly into 2013.
During the event on Saturday, the class had a team building exercise that allowed them to work together to reach a goal. As part of the team challenge, there were sponsors who offered $1 per point in the challenge. As a group, the students were working to earn at least 1,200 points in 30 minutes – which they did, so they earned $1,200 toward their community service project.
LaJoie said that fundraisers aren’t preplanned and that it is stressed that the adults are not going to plan a fundraiser and all the students need to do is attend.
“We actually want the kids to use their imagination and their own interests and talents to come up with the fundraiser that we choose,” she said, adding that the adults support the students and get the message out. “That’s the way we approach the fundraising, it’s completely student driven. It is meant to be child driven so they feel the impact of what they’re doing.”
Co-Director Renata Bowers said that it isn’t necessarily about how much money is raised, and having a parent take over, but about seeing what the kids can do on their own.
The three points on purpose are aim, shoot, and win. Bowers explains that aim is about encouraging kids to aim for the sky, and to dream big about what they as an individual love to do and are capable of doing.
Shoot is more about setting goals.
“Take what you’re really good at and what you love to do and think about how you can use that to do something for someone else,” Bowers said.
Win encompasses the idea of when people work together and combine their individual purposes for a bigger goal, they can do something bigger than themselves.
“The aim, shoot, win really focuses on individual and collective purpose with the end goal culminating in this idea of doing something together that stretches beyond their own individual border – and that’s where the fall community service project comes in,” Bowers said.
The program started three years ago when LaJoie’s son, Nathan, and Bowers’ son, Hunter, came up with the idea. Bowers said that the slogan they use all the time is “Live on purpose.”
“That really summarizes what the whole purpose of this program is, to encourage kids to respect one another, to acknowledge that they each individually have a purpose, and to use those purposes collectively to help someone beyond themselves,” she said.
The program began three years ago, so now all the students at Mabelle B. Avery have been through it.
“When you have three grades in a school and they’ve all been through this messaging of respecting one another, living on purpose, and doing things together to help others, you can really cultivate that idea of respect and a place of safety for kids,” Bowers said. “That’s really what Hunter and Nathan had in mind when they came up with idea. It was to use this as a way to make the school and the class feel more unified and safe.”
For more information about 3-POP and the community service project, check out the program’s Web site.