Jax Van Reenen, a third grader at Bales Intermediate, is the national spokesperson for Kids for Peace and their Kindness Coins campaign. Due to his work with Harvey relief, his video was part of the reason the organization chose his school to receive a new playground.

3rd grader as national spokesman gets playground for school

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Jax Van Reenen, a third grader at Bales Intermediate, is the national spokesperson for Kids for Peace and their Kindness Coins campaign. Due to his work with Harvey relief, his video was part of the reason the organization chose his school to receive a new playground.

Jax Van Reenen, a third grader at Bales Intermediate, is the national spokesperson for Kids for Peace and their Kindness Coins campaign. Due to his work with Harvey relief, his video was part of the reason the organization chose his school to receive a new playground.

BY KAROLYN GEPHART

A new playground is coming to Bales Intermediate and third grade student Jax Van Reenen is part of the reason it is being given to the campus in Friendswood ISD.

Van Reenen is the national spokesperson for a kindness campaign by Kids for Peace, based in California.

His job is to help them raise awareness of Harvey Flood relief by showing them in a video how the Friendswood area was devastated by the storm.

Bales’ Counselor Barbara Gruener is a friend to the co-founder of Kids for Peace and both she and the founder have worked together on kindness projects.

“After Harvey hit, she texted and asked what we need. I suggested the Undy 500 and they scheduled a trip to bring undies and socks,” Gruener said. “She asked if I could help with the distribution of the socks and undies, 5000 pairs which we ended up taking to former Westwood/Bales Principal Terri Bruce’s school in Dickinson, Lobot Middle School.”

When Gruener was asked during the call if she knew a student who could tell the story of Harvey, Gruener mentioned Van Reenen.

“He’s our town’s mini-meteorologist and I sent Kids for Peace the footage of his home-made video clip (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X9hLdknu39Y) and told him he already had a Go Fund Me page to help with recovery (https://www.gofundme.com/jet-stream-jax-harvey-relief). They fell in love with him and asked if he would be their spokesperson. I reached out to his parents, who were thrilled about the idea,” Gruener said.

Van Reenen spoke to the entire 5th grade at Lobot Middle School and told them about the Undies that the Kids For Peace team had collected for their community. Video was taken while he was doing this and the filming continued the following day in Friendswood before Kids for Peace representatives flew back to CA to produce the film and launch their Kind Coins campaign.

The first to view the film, after it was approved by FISD administrators, was the school counseling group Gruener was speaking to in Vermont.

“What a joy it was to share Jax and our story with them. The following week it went live; I also showed it in DC at the National Forum,” Gruener said.

The Kind Coins campaign {https://vimeo.com/236175750} was launched to help children in communities who lost their play spaces to heal by building new ones; that’s why they are collecting coins.

“After the Kids for Peace reps met the Bales school family, they went back to California and decided that we would be the recipient of one of their play spaces, to help our school family and community at large begin to heal from Harvey’s hard hit. They chose us; isn’t that incredible?” Gruener said. “We are beyond grateful for their generosity and kindness; to partner with us to bring a new play space to Bales and FISD is huge.”

The Kindness Team will be featured on Good Morning America Jan. 24 as they make their way to Friendswood for some volunteer work on the Bales’ play space and Peace Garden after the show airs, then on Jan. 31 at 2 p.m. Bales will have the Ribbon Cutting for the new playground challenge course that they’ve partnered with the district to build.

Jax Van Reenen, age 9, is the son of Dirk and Kristen Van Reenen of Friendswood.

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