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This article was published 9/5/2016 (440 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
A North End school’s social justice team is making change locally and abroad.
Students Making a Change (SMAC) is a student-led social justice team at Immaculate Heart of Mary School.
In its two years of existence, SMAC has raised thousands of dollars for local and global causes, including Rossbrook House, an inner-city youth drop-in centre, Welcome Place, which offers shelter and transitional services to new refugees, and Free the Children, an international charity.
SMAC’s latest cause is supporting emerging local artists.
"We are doing a graffiti art project, raising money for Graffiti Gallery," said SMAC member Jennifer Karabin. "It’s a non-profit organization which provides them (youth) with art supplies and stuff so they can paint and do art."
Karabin, a Grade 8 student, said SMAC is made up of 33 students from Grades 6, 7 and 8. SMAC member Lauren Alibin, a Grade 6 student, said the students have raised funds through bake sales and silver collections at school concerts, as well as selling rafiki bracelets.
"Rafiki bracelets are bracelets that moms in Kenya make, so we sell them for $10 and the money goes to the moms who made them," Alibin said.
Immaculate Heart of Mary School resource teacher Kathy Walkow said the SMAC members are responsible for specific tasks and split into three departments: finance, public relations and art. As a teacher, she said her role is only to educate the students about issues, with the students picking their cause and leading the charge.
In addition to raising funds, Karabin said SMAC takes part in awareness events like Pink Shirt Day, where students wear pink to take a stand against bullying.
Through its annual commitment to one local and one global action, SMAC members get to attend Free the Children’s annual youth empowerment event We Day. Karabin and Alibin have both attended We Day, and said it’s an inspiring event, but it’s not their sole reason for participating in SMAC.
"It’s just nice to help out people that may not have the chances we get here," Alibin said.
"I think that I’m so blessed to have all these wonderful opportunities around me and I just want everybody else to have the same opportunities," Karabin said.