Turning nobody into somebody is simple, as far as one Long Sault teacher is concerned. All you need is a doll and some positive energy.
Brenda Saaltink’s class is one of 20 in the Upper Canada District School Board that are now part of Who is Nobody?, a program that revolves around a featureless two-ft. doll made of denim.
It's our job to give this doll character— Brenda Saaltink, teacher
When a student completes a project that benefits people, animals or the environment, a corresponding feature is added to the doll. So, if little Sally helps her elderly neighbour shovel his driveway, she might add a craftwork shovel to the doll’s hand. Sally would then write about the experience of helping her neighbour, create a drawing of it, then add it to all to the class scrapbook.
“It’s our job to give this doll character,” Saaltink said. “To turn nobody into somebody.”
By the end of the school year, the Nobody doll will have 18 features added by each of Saaltink’s students.
Helping others can be fun.
“It’s to show helping others is a fun thing to do, and to instill things like virtue, honesty, fairness and respect,” Saaltink added. All of these qualities are goals of the school board’s character education program.
The 19th feature added to Nobody, which is technically the first since the program’s inception in mid-October, will be the result of a class project.
Saaltink and her students selected the environment for their first Nobody task. They came up with the slogan “Don’t Choke the Earth”, and put it on 750 cloth bags, not plastic ones.
So far, they’ve sold 200.
“We want to raise awareness about the negative effects of plastic on the environment,” Saaltink said.
The students researched the downside of plastic bags, such as the fact that they can take up to 1,000 years to decompose, and create a choking hazard for many types of animals.
They also created a logo for the bags that shows a hand crushing the Earth and spoke to other classes in their school about plastic bags. Nine-year-old Jacob says he likes mystery novels and books about animals, so he’d like to incorporate that into his own personal Nobody project, for which he’ll keep the doll at home for one week. “I’m going to talk to the library and see if they’d take a donation of books,” he said, noting some will be new, and others his own.
We want to raise awareness about the negative effects of plastic on the environment— Brenda Saaltink, teacher
To mark his donation on the Nobody doll, Jacob said he might write the title of his favourite novel, the name of which he couldn’t quite recall Friday.
Who is Nobody? was created by Kelly Clark, who has taught in over 150 schools in Canada and England. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Queen’s University, and a post-graduate Certificate in Education from the University of London, in England.
Nine-year-old Andrea has a few ideas for her project as well.
She might bake some cookies for local hospital patients, or donate some clothes.
Or perhaps plant a tree in her yard at home.
This article was published in the Cornwall Standard Freeholder Newspaper on December 22nd 2007.