Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Brick by Brick, he's making a difference: Morris boy builds schools

Turning baking and his bike into bricks and mortar

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After attending We Day, Avery Skog was inspired to raise funds to build schools for underprivileged kids.

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After attending We Day, Avery Skog was inspired to raise funds to build schools for underprivileged kids.

At an age when many children are learning how to cobble together a tree fort, Avery Skog is building schools.

When the 10-year-old soon-to-be graduate of Grade 4 at Morris School heard from his dad, Darren, about the plight of millions of children around the world who aren't able to go to school -- thanks to attending We Day at the MTS Centre -- Avery sprung into action.

First, he sold his bike. Then he held a bake sale and then a garage sale. Then he donated his allowance to his project, which he dubbed, Brick by Brick.

His goal was to raise enough money to build a school through Free The Children, the children-focused charity founded by brothers Craig and Marc Kielburger.

"My dad told me about the kids who are denied the basic right to an education. That's not fair at all. I'm trying to build a school for kids in need," he said.

The price tag is steep -- $10,000. He needed to sell the equivalent of 500 bricks at $20 each to meet his goal. Thanks to his friends, family and classmates, he has raised more than $12,000.

Once you've reached your goal, you set another one, right? Avery is working on his second school.

He first caught the attention of a couple of tellers at the RBC branch at the corner of Pembina Highway and Kirkbridge Drive when he walked in with a bag full of change and wanted to open an account. After asking about his project, they soon bought a couple of bricks and his story quickly worked its way up the RBC ladder.

Michelle Aitkenhead, the bank's regional vice-president for Manitoba, was hooked on Avery's project as soon as she saw his video on YouTube.

"I thought, 'Oh my gosh, here's a nine-year-old boy who is setting out to do so much in a year with so much determination and focus.' I bought a brick and sent him a note," she said.

Free The Children happened to be in Winnipeg recently doing a few events with the bank so she decided to sneak everybody, including one of Avery's heroes, Spencer West -- a man who has climbed Mount Kilimanjaro despite having lost his legs at an early age -- to Morris.

Avery described it as "a huge, huge surprise. The biggest surprise ever."

Last week, Avery was flown to Toronto to attend the We Can Change tour, where he met the Kielburgers.

geoff.kirbyson@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 24, 2014 A6

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