Sunday, February 01, 2009

1000 Classrooms

This past Christmas, my kids were spoiled. I mean, SPOILED. I'd bought lots of toys, Santa (that bastard) had bought too many toys, and then there were countless grandparents, aunts, and uncles, who added to the mountain of toys in our house. By the time Christmas week was done, I stared at the gigantic pile of new acquisitions with immense guilt, realizing my kids had too many toys BEFORE Christmas, and certainly didn't need any of these. What was I teaching them?

I talked to my daughter a few weeks ago. She's 4 and obsessed with Monarchs. We spent last summer catching monarch caterpillars, raising them into butterflies, and letting them go. It was fantastic, and I can't wait until next summer (and I would encourage other parents to do the same... I found out from the Butterfly Conservatory -- who I called one day in a panic when one of the butterflies didn't emerge from the chrysalis properly and I had to perform emergency surgery with the butterfly specialist talking me through it over the phone -- that butterflies have a very low percentage of survival in the wild, but if captured and raised the way we were doing it, they had a 90% survival rate). I learned so much, and we had all these tiny containers filled with creatures that bore my daughter's increasingly imaginative names: Pree-Tee, Tapoopa, Balloonaburn. We already have a few larger terrariums in anticipation of this coming summer.

A couple of weeks ago I talked to her about having a birthday party this year where instead of gifts, we raised money and gave it to some sort of monarch conservation society, since the monarch butterfly is becoming an endangered species due to new roadways, etc. She thought that was an awesome idea. And my faith was renewed. Maybe my child would learn something about giving rather than receiving. Maybe she could make a difference. Like James Brooks.

My blog is mostly about television and pop culture, but every once in a while something comes up outside of that parameter that is so extraordinary, I need to write something about it. Long-time readers of my blog might remember me talking about James Brooks, the young man from London, Ontario, who began doing charity work and fundraising for the bonobo apes when his age was still a single digit. Now at the ripe old age of 12, he's moving his efforts even further.

1000Classrooms is his latest initiative, an amazing program that encourages other children to donate a very small amount of money that could make a world of difference in the lives of children in the Congo. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, there are rangers hired to protect the Eastern Lowlands Gorillas. Many of these men are killed due to proper safety measures, and a school has been opened for the children of these men. An "Eggs for Kids" program has been put in effect to supply eggs to the children and the widows of the deceased rangers.

James' initiative asks for 1000 classrooms to donate $3 per classroom (yes, per classroom, not per child) which would help achieve the goal of one egg per day per child.

James and his projects were the subject of a CP story this past week, and you can find out more about how to help out at his website, 1000classrooms. If you have a child in school and are looking for a fundraising idea that would allow for a lot of education but the children not having to put up any money, this would be the perfect way to start. You could talk to the classroom, and use the materials James has available on that site and his other one, Apeaware. I think it's a fantastic idea, and one I hope many children get involved in.

And then maybe his wonderful parents can give seminars on how to teach their children to grow up and be like this guy.


Jazzygirl said...

Thanks for posting this. I am a high school environmental science teacher and I also advise a club called Roots & Shoots, an off-shoot of the Jane Goodall Foundation. I think this is awesome and will definitely look into it as either a class project or maybe one for the club. Currently we are fundraising to support women entrepeneurs in Africa but we might be able to tie into it somehow. In my class, we just discussed last week the plight of the people in Congo as it relates to coltan mining, etc. I love finding new things like this so thanks a lot!!

Nikki Stafford said...

That would be awesome! You can email James with any questions about it at