The Braille Monitor                                                                                         July, 2002

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Kids Reach Out to Federation

Raise Funds to Help the Blind

by Aloma Bouma

Five students get a workout using Hula Hoops
Five students get a workout using Hula Hoops.

From the Editor: Aloma Bouma is Assistant Director of Community Relations for the National Federation of the Blind. She wrote the following article to commend a wonderful group of elementary-school students and to explain a great idea that can be duplicated everywhere. This is what she says:

No doubt about it, kids today know the value of the Internet and how to make full use of it. This point was recently driven home by a group of dedicated and energetic fifth graders at Pointers Run Elementary School in Clarksville, Maryland. Together with their parents, nearly two hundred students planned and organized the first-ever sports-a-thon at the school designed to raise funds the students would donate to a chosen charity.

Each of the seven fifth grade classes was divided into several small groups, and these groups were then assigned to research various charities and non-profit organizations on the Internet. The goal was to find a worthy recipient of the funds raised by the students. As each group made its presentation and appeal to the individual class, one charity was voted the choice of that particular class. The seven finalists were then presented to the entire fifth grade, and the National Federation of the Blind was voted by the entire group to be the best choice.

Six students enjoy jumping rope
Six students enjoy jumping rope.

Once the kids had selected the National Federation of the Blind, they wanted to know even more about the organization they had chosen. After all, these kids wanted to raise as much money as they could, and they needed to learn about the NFB in order to convince their friends and families to support their cause. As she often does, Mrs. Patricia Maurer, wife of NFB President Marc Maurer and director of community relations for the NFB, accepted an invitation to address the fifth graders and talk with them about blindness, the National Federation of the Blind, and the new National Research and Training Institute for the Blind. To help the kids learn even more about the Federation, she gave each student a copy of the brochure, "What Is the National Federation of the Blind?" and an NFB Braille alphabet card.

Then the kids had about three weeks to plan their event and raise donations. The sports-a-thon was scheduled for Wednesday, May 29, from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Together the kids and parents came up with ideas for seven different competitions. Each student would participate in three to five events. The seven classes rotated among the seven competitions, and those students not participating at any given time served as helpers for other events. Rather than asking for donations based on length or success of participation in specific competitions, the students requested flat donations in advance of the sports-a-thon.

In the gym students dribble and make baskets using all five basketball nets.
In the gym students dribble and make baskets using all five basketball nets.

The competitions included a quarter-mile walk/jog, a target softball throw, soccer, a Hula-Hoop contest, a jump rope competition, football punting, and a team basketball game. Each rotation lasted for approximately fifteen minutes. To liven things up even more, a special teacher's competition was held at the end of the sports-a-thon. The kids were even more excited to learn that reporters from their local newspaper, the Columbia Flier, and from the Baltimore Sun were to cover the event.

Finally, at the end of the sports-a-thon, the tired but proud students were ready and eager to present their hard-earned donations to Mrs. Maurer. They had kept the total amount of money raised a surprise until the actual presentation of the check to the NFB. And, to Mrs. Maurer's great astonishment and appreciation, the check was in the amount of $4,500.

After all the activity the students gather in what shade they can find for the presentation of the check to Mrs. Maurer.
After all the activity the students gather in what shade they can find for the presentation of the check to Mrs. Maurer.

In accepting the generous contribution, Mrs. Maurer told the students, staff, and parents: "We are very excited to have been the organization you have chosen to benefit from this special event. You have all put a lot of thought and effort into making this a success that will help the blind. The students have worked very hard to raise contributions, and they have learned a great deal about blindness and what the blind can accomplish. We are proud of all of your efforts, and we appreciate your generosity very much." Mrs. Maurer went on to tell the participants how the funds will contribute to the development of the National Research and Training Institute for the Blind and will lead to programs benefiting thousands of blind people in the years to come.

During the presentation ceremony Mrs. Maurer awarded a special certificate of appreciation from the National Federation of the Blind to the fifth grade class at Pointers Run Elementary School, and every student who participated in the sports-a-thon received an NFB T-shirt. The text of the certificate read:

Know All Men and Women

by These Presents that

The National Federation of the Blind

welcomes and thanks

the Fifth Grade Class of

Pointers Run Elementary School

And that this certificate is presented

in grateful recognition of the generous assistance

given to help the blind achieve better lives

Marc Maurer, President, National Federation of the Blind

Mrs. Maurer addresses students, parents, and teachers following the presentation of the check to the NFB.  The seven youngsters who raised the most money are clustered around Mrs.  Maurer.
Mrs. Maurer addresses students, parents, and teachers following the presentation of the check to the NFB. The seven youngsters who raised the most money are clustered around Mrs. Maurer.
One of the seven students holds the cedrtificate Mrs. Maurer has just presented, and another examines a picture of the National Research and Training Institute.
One of the seven students holds the certificate Mrs. Maurer has just presented, and another examines a picture of the National Research and Training Institute.

We commend the fifth grade class at Pointers Run Elementary School in Clarksville, along with their parents and teachers, for their generosity and dedication to the blind. The accomplishments and success of the National Federation of the Blind have been built not only through our passion and dedication but also with the hard work, understanding, and support of thousands of others. These students are a shining example of what can be done with a little thought, some planning, and a lot of effort. The $4,500 raised is an outstandingachievement; yet we know this feat can be multiplied over and over in our schools, church groups, and community-service partners. It's up to all of us to take this and similar ideas to groups in our own communities. Wouldn't it be wonderful if the Pointers Run fifth grade was the first of a long line of school and community groups to join hands with us as we build the future for blind people?

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