By LIVIA COLLINSON
In February and early March of this year, six high school and middle school students from Malvern Collegiate, Glen Ames Senior Public School, and Branksome Hall travelled to Marsh Harbour, Abaco, Bahamas to volunteer for the week at Every Child Counts School (ECC).
The group consisted of Livia Collinson, Kyle Deverell, Charlotte Siller, Julia Harvey, Ryan Deverell, Cate Shanahan, Gwen Deverell, and Tammy Coutu.
This school, for students with special needs, has a wide variety of children with different abilities and disabilities. The Canadian volunteers spent the week helping the students at the school prepare for their annual concerts, which raise money for the school.
From painting props, organizing chairs and furniture, to sitting through entertaining rehearsals, the volunteers instantly felt welcome and a part of this warm and caring school.
We were so impressed with the talent and effort put in to the performances. The students had been practicing since November, and sold out both shows.
One act even included a signing performance, led by the students who cannot speak.
The sense of community at this school, where everyone respects each other’s differences and helps out, including wheeling each other, feeding each other and always looking out for each other, is something really amazing.
We learned so much from them as they shared their enthusiasm and celebrated little victories each day. As a group of girls aged 13-16 years old, helping out these kids brought us closer together as we lived, ate and volunteered together.
We felt so connected to these children, who found a way to inspire us and, in many cases, make us cry. We spent our evenings sharing our favorite moments and what stood out to us the most that day.
In preparation for our trip, we collected clothing for students who cannot afford a uniform. We also spent time in December selling Mountain View Estates Coffee in the neighbourhood, and at the Leslieville Flea Market, in order to raise money for the school.
We were able to present ECC with a donation that would send one student to the school for a full year.
We would like to thank Mountain View Estates Coffee and the Leslieville Flea for assisting us.
This school is such a special place and we feel lucky to have been a part of it. We are planning to go back next year!
If you would like to know more about the school, check them out at everychildcountsabaco.org