Brooklyn to El Salvador

Since 2009, World Connect has partnered with schools across the country to engage youth in international development, philanthropy and service learning. Through Kids Connect, students choose a project for which they learn and teach their peers, fundraise, and connect directly with local project leaders through Skype. Since 2009, kids have raised nearly $35,000 to support women and children around the world.
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World Connect recently launched its Kids Connect program at the Community Partnership Middle School (CPCS), a charter school in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, where 98% of students are black or Hispanic and 46% are eligible for free lunch. Despite facing challenges of their own, seven middle school girls embraced the opportunity to help others in parts of the world where women and girls have more limited opportunities to access health services, education, and economic opportunity.

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“I want to be able to help the community by being able to help others become somebody and a leader someday.”- Nosimat, 7th grade student

The students at CPCS chose to support the La Laguna artisan group in El Salvador through World Connect’s Crocheting for Community project. Dominated by a machismo culture, there are limited employment opportunities for women in El Salvador. Through crochet, business, and gender equality workshops, the women received training necessary to ensure the sustainability of their artisan group, helping to provide them with a stable source of income.

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To support the women of La Laguna, the students at CPCS held a bake sale and sold Salvadoran food to not only raise funds for the project, but to also raise awareness about Salvadoran culture. In addition to holding a bake sale, the students sold empanadas and pupusas, which were provided at a discounted price from a local Salvadoran restaurant near the school. The girls raised $140 from 50 unique donations. In addition, student leaders donated their own money. Through various bake sales throughout the school year, the students raised a total of $300.

The learning expanded way beyond the classroom. Through interactive Skype sessions, the students were able to see the impact they were making in La Laguna by talking to the women artisans directly. The students also had guest speakers, such as Jade Vasquez, who had just retuned from serving two years in El Salvador through the Peace Corps. She talked about her experiences in the country and the importance of service learning, and even hand delivered some crocheted items from the women artisans.

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CPCS students enjoyed a field trip to a local Salvadoran restaurant in Brooklyn to speak with Ariela Suster, a Salvadorian jewelry designer whose Sequence line (hyperlink the word Sequence to: http://www.sequencecollection.com/) uses fashion to promote social justice. She is NYC-based and recently created a line of bracelets that support ending violence among youth in El Salvador. The bracelets are handcrafted in El Salvador by local community members, offering them employment, free art classes, and an alternative to violence and gang culture. The experience gave the students a wider perspective of the issues facing young people in El Salvador.

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The young women leaders at CPCS have demonstrated their determination and their effectiveness at making a difference and growing as leaders inside the classroom and beyond. We look forward to seeing which community they connect with next!

Learn more about how to get your school involved with Kids Connect: http://worldconnect-us.org/kids-connect-page/