Keystone Montessori in Chelmsford aids families in Africa

This article was originally published in the Wicked Local online news from Chelmsford, Massachusetts on May 11, 2012. Here's the original link. Credits to Molly Loughman/Wicked Local staff writer for a lovely article!  

Chelmsford — It is more than 5,000 miles from Keystone Montessori School in the old mill in North Chelmsford to the Azawak region in north Central Africa, but students at the school are doing what they can to bridge that gap.

This month, a class of 6- to 10-year-olds raised $1,400 for Amman Imman, an organization devoted to providing indigenous populations in Africa with fresh water. The class of 15 participated in Wells of Love, the organization’s service learning program.

“Hopefully this will help put our little school on the map, as well as show what six-to-ten-year-olds can do,” said teacher Meghan Duffy.

Each student pledged support from family and friends for the Amman-a-thon, held on March 22, World Water Day. The Amman-a-thon is tailored for wide age groups, allowing students to choose from various activities, including hopping on one leg, twirling a hula hoop, throwing bean bags, jumping rope, running laps and more.

Despite high temperatures that day, students ran as many laps as they could for five minutes around a course marked by cones. On average, the classroom ran between 12 and 22 laps. For every lap, individuals were sponsored a dollar.

“I liked raising the money because it was fun. I hope not as much kids die because now they have more wells and I basically loved helping people in Africa, other than people in the United States,” said Mia.

Donations go to the building of borehole wells throughout the Azawak area in Africa. To tackle the project, one 10-year-old embarked on an e-mail campaign, collecting $300.

“I think this is a pretty good international fundraiser. The cool thing about this is that we can focus on one certain skill so it doesn’t have to be running. They could get better at jumping jacks or something. And it’s really good for their physical education part, too,” said Duffy.

Beginning in February, students exercised and ran laps every Thursday for five minutes. They also learned about harsh conditions in Mali and Niger, where people are forced to walk miles for fresh water.

“My favorite part of it was running the laps because it was really exercising and fun and I really liked it and that’s my favorite part,” said Zoey

Launched in 2006 Wells of Love aims to educate students about pressing global concerns, including climate change, desertification and water shortages, along with the indigenous populations affected by these issues. Amman Imman helps supply the most deprived and vulnerable indigenous regions in the world with fresh water by raising awareness and engaging individuals in fundraising.

Aside from the international fundraiser, the class donates to local charities. Last November they hosted a book sale and bake sale to buy diapers for the Wish Project and House of Hope, family homeless shelters in Lowell. Each year the class holds two big fundraisers.

These projects are largely based on one of the school’s core philosophies, to teach children how they can help the planet’s threatened resources and creatures. The Duffy’s students share the responsibilities of taking care of their classroom pets: three finches, two parakeet, two frogs, one turtle, one beta fish and one anole.

“Montessori is very different than traditional education; the basic gist is that through dynamic materials, collaboration with parents and observation of the child, the student will reach his or her fullest potential as an individual, both academically and socially, and hopefully become an 'agent of change,' a Montessori term that describes a fully grown adult who can better serve our world,” said Duffy.


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