By KAROLYN GEPHART
Kids can make a difference in Friendswood ISD and a group of seven at Bales Intermediate are on their way to show how.
The group, M.A.D. Kidz, is comprised of seven fourth-grade students at Bales Intermediate who are forming a club around the idea of Service Learning. Their plan to to do something for their school, then the local community, the nation and finally a volunteer project to help an organization globally.
The team includes Ryan Furey, Kaitlin McAnelly, Kaitlyn Laiche, Marin Wilbur, Shiv Malkani, Carter Payne and Ellie Leitko. Their parent volunteer is Amy Furey.
The seven founding members hope the club can create a community of children that understand the importance of giving, that the club can continue in the future at Westwood and Bales and that it inspires other schools to start a service learning club. They chose the name Make a Difference Kidz and shortened it to M.A.D. Kidz.
The invitation to join the club will be extended to both students at Bales Intermediate as well as Windsong Intermediate.
The group is planning for the first meeting to be held within the next month. The club will initially meet to discuss the idea of Service Learning. The team will give a presentation that they had previously given to the two school principals and Superintendent Thad Roher. The group will then discuss four projects for the year.
The club will then meet on project days after school.
Their first project will clean up the gardens at both Westwood Elementary & Bales Intermediate. Both gardens need weeding and attention, according to Furey.
The idea for the club originated from the team’s work in the program Destination Imagination or DI. Destination Imagination is an educational organization that teaches 21st century skills and STEM principles to students through collaborative problem-solving challenges. The team’s name in DI is the Superior 7.
The Superior 7 will participate in a regional DI Competition on February 16 at Dulles High School. If the team places well at regional, they will have the opportunity to go to a state competition in Corpus Christi and then onto a global competition.
The DI competition involves an instant challenge and a team challenge.
This is designed to help students build their quick, creative and critical thinking skills. Team Challenge provides teams with months to prepare, plan and create a solution to a problem. Team challenges are open-ended enabling students to learn and experience the creative process while fostering their creativity, curiosity and courage, according to DI information.
Each DI team gets to select their preferred challenge and work together to develop a solution. This year, the Superior 7 decided to participate in a service learning challenge for their team challenge.
“The team brainstormed a variety of smaller service projects, but ultimately, they decided to approach the challenge with a bigger and bolder solution by starting a service learning club for Westwood Elementary & Bales Intermediate students,” Furey said. “They were interested in the idea of doing a variety of projects throughout the year and including their peers.”
The school counselors, Kelly Parker and Heather Elmore, will help sponsor the club. The DI team is currently in the process of working on a promotional video, posters, and flyers to encourage their peers to join M.A.D. Kidz.