If someone living on the street asked you for spare change, would you give it to them?
Christ teaches us that social change starts at home. With the small acts that we do for our friends, family, and neighbors at large. At The Franciscan School, we teach our students to plant seeds of social change, no matter how small they may seem. As we are called to action through Christ’s example, service is a key component to our mission. Students learn how social action can have a significant impact on others, even someone that they’ve never met.
This month, we focused on the Dignity of Work and used our annual Fair Trade Market as an opportunity for students to give back. We built upon our partnership with Becky Cawley of the Peace and Justice Ministry and Melissa Radcliff of Our Children’s Place of Coastal Horizons Center. Our Children’s Place is an organization that is leading the way in state advocacy for children with incarcerated parents.
Did you know there are 2.7 million children impacted by incarceration in the United States and 25,000 alone in North Carolina? We have staff and students who have been directly affected by incarceration. They know first-hand how challenging the experience is for the entire family, especially the children.
We take this opportunity to have an open discussion with students. Students answer questions like, “How would you feel if you had a parent in prison?” and “Would you want to visit them in prison?” This year, a student raised their hand and said, “I know exactly how it feels, and [I] don’t want to talk about it.” In those moments, the students become the teachers. That’s the beauty of social change; it reminds you that everyone has a story and that you must seek to see one another, each person’s challenges and strengths.
Following our discussion, the 6th-grade students partner with their 3rd-grade prayer buddies to stuff teddy bears. We sold the bears at the Fair Trade Market, with proceeds from the sales going to Our Children’s Place. Through this act of love, similar service projects throughout the year, and Catholic school teaching principles, we help our students understand how to follow Christ in social justice.
At the end of each project, every participant walks away with a new perspective. “This reminded me of the need to see the students clearly, as they are, with their individual needs. To see them as Christ sees them; their perceived weaknesses as strengths,” said Shawn Tenace, one of the TFS Middle School religion teachers.
We invite you to join in fellowship with us through social change. Learn more about upcoming volunteer opportunities here on The Franciscan School website.