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Free the Children group just getting started

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Sisler High School’s Free the Children group isn’t yet through with its efforts for 2012, but it’s already looking forward to next year’s projects.

The group has been dedicated to taking part in fundraisers for Free the Children, a global effort which aims to eliminate child exploitation. The group is currently wrapping up two fundraisers: They’ve been collecting pennies for the We Create Change campaign, and they’ve been selling Water Rafiki Friend Chains. Both campaigns will help to provide clean water for those who otherwise wouldn’t have it.

They are also collecting food for a local family.

Both the penny drive and Rafiki Chain fundraisers are expected to wrap up in December, but the group, which has more than 40 students involved, won’t be quiet for long. Orysya

Petryshyn, supervising teacher for the group, said they have a year’s worth of campaigns to undertake in 2013, with a focus on human rights issues.

"Our students are amazing," Petryshyn said.

"One of the students is our photographer, the other one is doing the announcements. Every time, whenever we need it, everybody’s co-operating," Petryshyn said.

One student, she said, bumped into Ladybug Foundation founder Hannah Taylor and struck up a conversation about their work. The group will now be supporting the foundation’s Walk A Mile In Their Shoes campaign on Jan. 31, 2013, and will be selling red scarves in support of the foundation.

But that’s just the beginning. The Sisler Free the Children group has a kit containing an entire year’s worth of projects.

"Every month, we have something new," Petryshyn said.

The group has received considerable support from the school, and Petryshyn gave a lot of credit to the school’s custodians, who have been longtime supporters.

"They’re always with us. We have custodians who are consistently supporting us," she said.
Grade 11 student Justin Midwinter is one of the students involved. Midwinter has been deemed the group’s official announcer, providing updates for his peers in school about the group’s work.

He was inspired to join the group a year ago after seeing what kind of work it was doing.

"It’s a big change and it’s very inspiring. It made me want to get involved," Midwinter said.
He said the penny drive, through which the group put together 10 bags of pennies worth $25 each, was a highlight for him. Midwinter said his own viewpoint on armed conflict also helped motivate him into action.

"My uncle himself is in the army, and that scared me, thinking he won’t come back. And hearing there’s children in war too, that makes it even worse," he said.

"I don’t see the point in war, I think there’s other ways issues can be solved."
Midwinter said youth today are able to make their voice heard, making groups like the school’s all the more important.

"Youth today are able to make a big change, like Hannah Taylor. She was young when she started the Ladybug Foundation," he said.

"Now it’s a huge organization, and it’s changed a lot of lives... I believe teens today are able to do that."

The group is currently raising money by selling raffle tickets, with a gift card as the prize. Money raised through the raffle will go toward the local family the group is helping. Raffle tickets are $2 each and can be obtained by contacting the school at (204) 589-8321.

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