Providence Day School 9th-graders are taking an up-close and in-depth look at poverty in Charlotte this year.
“Be the Change” is a yearlong service-learning program in which the 9th-grade class 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. 18, began with a “town hall meeting” at which students had the opportunity to hear from and ask questions of six Charlotte-area leaders who are working to address issues of poverty in Charlotte.
The students then participateed in a poverty simulation on campus, in which they had to navigate the challenges of living in poverty — paying bills and rent, buying groceries, using public transportation, handling unexpected situations, etc., all on a limited budget.
The students next went off campus to visit and perform service work at various nonprofits around Charlotte, including Urban Ministry Center, an interfaith organization dedicated to bringing the community together to end homelessness; Crisis Assistance Ministry, which provides assistance and advocacy for families in financial crisis; The Relatives Youth Crisis Center, a shelter for homeless and runaway youth; Humane Society of Charlotte, a "space available shelter for animals;" Beds for Kids, which delivers beds and essential furniture to those in need; Spay Neuter Charlotte; which provides high-quality, low-cost spay neuter and wellness service to help end the preventable euthanasia of cats and dogs; and Charlotte Family Housing, a shelter-to-housing program for homeless families.
Two more service days are scheduled. Feb. 21 will focus on the effects of poverty on arts and education, and April 12 will focus on the effects of poverty on food 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.
Freshmen Work to "Be the Change" for Charlotte Poverty