Each bag is specifically targeted for a named child, with each of these children coming from families who are migrant workers in Shanghai with very low incomes and harsh living conditions. The bags bring great joy and practical support to these children as they each contain; a warm jacket, hat, scarf and glove set, a book bag and stationery, a book and a toy personalised for that child. This year we also donated teacher bags to bring a little happiness to the teachers who work so hard within this migrant community and resource-poor schools. It was a lovely evening, with Christmas music, refreshments kindly donated by the PTA and lots of cheer. There was a real sense of purpose and, despite a long day at school and work, over 50 people were happy to give their time to this worthwhile project.
As a school, we place great emphasis on developing citizenship and a community ethos. We want our students to know about the world, to recognise the inequalities that exist and to develop a sense of individual and collective responsibility to be active citizens of their local and global communities. Projects like the Giving Tree initiative are a practical way for us to come together to support our local community here in Shanghai. Each day we see the migrant workers on the construction sites and can imagine how their lives greatly differ from our own and how the opportunities given to their children are vastly different to the students at BISS. Donating items is a practical way of helping and we extend a huge thanks to all the families that returned gift bags. Giving up time to help others is also a powerful way of demonstrating that you care and the purposeful energy last night showed that using our time to help others can also give us a deep sense of happiness.
A global society needs active, informed and responsible citizens; citizens who are willing and able to take responsibility for themselves and their communities. It is essential therefore that through our formal and enhanced curriculum we create meaningful opportunities for all our students to explore and develop an understanding of what we mean by being a good citizen. This includes activities and learning experiences which will help them to; care about the feelings and rights of others; show concern for the safety and well-being of others; be informed about issues; follow the 3 Rs-- reduce, reuse and recycle, and actively use their skills to make a better community. Throughout the year this may take the form of a class discussion, an assembly, a fund raising initiative, a recycling project, a student council initiative or a visit to a local centre. We also have teachers and older students who regularly volunteer at a local migrant school. Such experiences are made more meaningful when they are reinforced by conversations at home so I would encourage you all to regularly talk to your children about social issues and encourage them to be active citizens. The small steps they take now will influence the kind of adults they will grow into and we want our children to have a positive influence in the communities that they will live in.
Thanks to Ms Coong and Mr Shrewsbury for leading this Giving Tree project and to all the members of our school community who have made a difference.
- Niki Meehan, Head of Primary