Hands to Serve, Hearts to Love
The 6th and 7th Grade students at Vail Mountain School created projects that reflect a personal philosophy of Mother Teresa: "Give your hands to serve and your heart to love." These pupils believe that active citizenship is defined by one's willingness to help in ways big and small.
The 6th Graders designed "helping hands” because they believe that everyone can, and should, be willing to assist and be of service. They decorated bright orange, yellow, green, blue, and pink hands with symbols, designs, words, and quotes of personal significance. The fingers and palms of these paper hands - which are as unique as the students who created them - are adorned with the activities and tasks that these incredible kids have taken on while lending a helping hand in their homes, classrooms, school, and wider community. We learn from this project that the Vail Mountain School students recognize the value of “doing community service”, “giving money to schools and people who need money”, “recycling”, carrying out “small acts of kindness”, and "being kind". Each student documented their efforts by completing this sentence starter: I lend a helping hand by.... Colton wrote about how he has helped at the homeless shelter, while Henry said that he works to teach other kids how to play guitar.
It's not only the theme of helping that unifies the work of the 6th and 7th Grade, but their desire to have a pen pal. Both sets of students reached out to their friends in Ghana with letters. The 7th Graders wrote letters sharing details about what is important in their life and explaining the things that they believe make them worthy citizens of the world. They described volunteering at horse rescue centers, cleaning nearby rivers and lakes, helping flood victims in Boulder, CO and growing food in public gardens to provide sustenance for less fortunate families. The students also reflected on the emotions associated with service work. Marcus said: “I like to help other people because it makes me feel good", and Zack wrote: “I help the community… and I love it. Helping people is one thing that makes me happy. I haven’t done much but eventually I will go to Nepal on a service trip. I don’t know if you do that in Ghana, but it is great.”
While the 7th Grade students decided to express their thoughts and beliefs in a different artistic manner than their younger counterparts, they still emphasized the powerful role that we each play in making the world a better place. These pupils decorated postcards based on the idea that being a citizen of the world means helping to ensure that there is peace in each and every community. Peace, they said, begins with us.
It's not only the theme of helping that unifies the work of the 6th and 7th Grade, but their desire to have a pen pal. Both sets of students reached out to their friends in Ghana with letters, and we know that they are eagerly awaiting a returned response with their upcoming reconnection. We hope that the art, the letters, and the rubber band bracelets that these students send to Ghana will act as physical reminders about the importance of being actively involved in and committed to the service of others.