By John Curry
Thanks to a denim doll named Nobody, students in a grade six class at Goulbourn Middle School have all become a “somebody,” making a difference in the world.
Each student got to take Nobody home for a week, doing some positive activity with Nobody, an activity that makes a difference in the world and which means something to them personally.
Week after week, a student would share with the class that personal activity which was done with Nobody. Each student provided a written account as well and also got to provide one item of clothing or an accessory for Nobody who had shown up in the class as an unadorned denim doll.
Indeed, Nobody’s exposure to the class began when teacher Ms. Jen Sammon simply put the suitcase carrying Nobody out on a desk and left it there. Eventually Nobody’s presence was revealed and the “The Nobody Project” was underway.
Nobody has no gender, simply representing someone doing good in the world.
And what a variety of initiatives were undertaken by these grade six students when they had Nobody home with them.
Jessica Norton raised $42 for the Humane Society by doing extra chores around the house like cleaning her room, vacuuming and feeding the dog, all with the help of Nobody. She wanted to support the Humane Society because, quite simply, she loves animals.
Another student Jessica Bell also opted to support the Humane Society, also by doing chores like brushing her cats and watering the garden. She and Nobody raised $11.50 for the Humane Society.
There is much done about volunteer work at the high school level and this Mr. Nobody Project provides an opportunity for students to get exposed to volunteer experiences at an earlier age
Emma Richardson used her time with Nobody to help with a silent auction raising funds to save thoroughbred race horses from being killed following their racing careers.
“I ride horses myself and just love them,” Emma says in explaining why she wanted to be involved in saving these horses.
Student Sam Swafford wanted to help out the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) because he had been helped there medically. His project involved making six fleece blankets for use by children at CHEO, an activity which involved the whole class which made a total of six blankets after being taught how to create them. From his personal experience at CHEO, he knows that the blankets do make a difference to patients.
Haley Bowditch’s effort to collect pop can tabs really took off. She went to all of the grade six classes in the school to drum up interest in this and she went around regularly to keep up the interest. In the end, over 80,000 pop can tabs were collected, just a few away from being able to obtain a wheelchair from them. She even received the donation of a fish bowl full of collected pop can tabs.
Haley expanded her efforts beyond the school, also collecting pop can tabs at her dojo.
Student Sam Wilson, whose father works on a dairy farm, took care of calves which are prone to get pneumonia and die. He would feed and care for them to ensure that this did not happen.
Jordan Cabana raised about $20 for the Heart and Stroke Foundation by doing various household chores like walking the dog and cleaning the pool. He wanted to support the Heart and Stroke Foundation because he himself has had a heart condition.
And there were more initiatives undertaken with Nobody.
Nobody has become a somebody now thanks to the efforts of her students in making a difference
Raegan Jones wanted to raise awareness about the Children’s Aid Society, a desire arising from having parents who are police officers who are exposed to the Children’s Aid Society and its services.
Olivia Bradey had nine inches of her hair cut off so that the hair could be donated to “Locks of Love,” an organization that provides hair pieces to financially disadvantaged children under 18 years of age who are suffering long term medical hair loss.
Another student, Ryan Skinner, organized an anti-bullying campaign, complete with a brochure which he designed and produced on his own.
“It’s been a really fun experience,” said teacher Ms. Sammon about the Mr. Nobody Project, noting that Nobody has become a somebody now thanks to the efforts of her students in making a difference.
And Nobody’s appearance changed over the course of the weeks that he was with the students. Each student provided him with a piece of clothing or accessory to represent their work together in making a difference. So Nobody now has ears, a golden horseshoe, a hat, a bracelet made from pop can tabs, hair and more.
The class also has a book filled with the journals written by each of the students, explaining how they made a difference. Each student has received an “I Am Somebody” bracelet for successfully taking part in the Mr. Nobody Project. More about the program can be found at www.whoisnobody.com
Teacher Ms. Sammon learned about the Mr. Nobody Project from a school literacy coach. She notes that there is much done about volunteer work at the high school level and this Mr. Nobody Project provides an opportunity for students to get exposed to volunteer experiences at an earlier age.
This program was developed by a teacher named Kelly Clark, applying literacy to real-life experiences. Students build self-esteem by discovering their strengths and using them to help the community in a personal way.
Reflecting, documenting, sharing and celebrating each participant and the group as a whole are built into the program through such things as a class scrapbook and weekly presentations by the students about their time with Nobody.
This article was published in the Sittsvile and Richmond EMC on June 28th 2012
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