Freshmen Learning to "Be the Change" for Charlotte Poverty
Providence Day School 9th-graders are taking an up-close and in-depth look at poverty around Charlotte, and what they can do to create solutions.
“Be the Change” is a yearlong service-learning program in which 9th-graders study poverty in Mecklenburg County and obtain hands-on experience with different area organizations. The intent of the program is not to “fix” the poverty problem, but to educate participants about the community’s needs, various ways in which they can become involved and to mold good community citizens.
The program involves three service days over the year. The first, held Nov. 20, focused on the effects poverty has on children, families and animals in the Charlotte community.
The day began with a poverty simulation on campus, run by Crisis Assistance Ministry, in which students had to navigate the challenges of living in poverty — paying bills and rent, buying groceries, using public transportation, etc., all on a limited budget.
The students then went off campus to visit and perform service work at various nonprofits around Charlotte.
At Charlotte Family Housing, a shelter-to-housing program for homeless families, the students raked and bagged leaves, trimmed weeds and bushes, cleaned the day center and kitchens, organized welcome baskets and baked cookies for after school.
At Urban Ministry Center, an interfaith organization dedicated to bringing the community together to end homelessness, the students worked in the gardens, cleaned and re-stocked the art room with supplies and made sandwiches for lunch.
At the Humane Society of Charlotte, a "space available shelter for animals," the students raked leaves, swept out cobwebs, restocked and organized storage barns, sanitized interaction areas, cleaned kennels, cleaned up trash and pulled weed.
At The Relatives, Mecklenburg County’s only shelter for homeless and runaway youth, the students talked with young adults who have received support from On Ramp, a program for those needing help in making the transition to adulthood.
At Spay Neuter Charlotte, which provides high-quality, low-cost spay neuter and wellness service to help end the preventable euthanasia of cats and dogs, the students completed discharge paperwork for dogs and cats, added the clinic’s monthly special flyer to its brochures, created outdoor houses for feral cats to provide shelter for the winter season, restocked and organized storage areas.
At Crisis Assistance Ministry, which provides assistance and advocacy for families in financial crisis, the students provided sandwiches and beverages for clients waiting for services.
Two more service days are scheduled. Feb. 11 will focus on poverty’s effect on education, the arts and the culture of our community. April 6 will focus on poverty’s effect on access to healthy foods, the creation of food deserts and the environment in the community.
Part of PDS's mission is to instill in its students a sense of social responsibility. The goal is to encourage students to engage in activities that teach leadership, principles of service to the community and personal responsibility.
PDS helps students develop character dispositions such as empathy, patience, integrity, humility, open-mindedness, confidence and courage, so they can understand and act on local and global issues.
Learn more about Social Responsibility at PDS.