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King’s Christian students supply superb support for Shuswap Family Centre

Grade 10 group sets up fundraiser to benefit children and youth
Flanked by King’s Christian School teacher Ella LaFleur and Shuswap Family Centre’s executive director Patti Thurston, Grade 10 students pause for a photo on Nov. 9 after fundraising above and beyond for children and youth programs. (Martha Wickett - Salmon Arm Observer)

A group of Grade 10 students at King’s Christian School in Salmon Arm outshone expectations when they raised money recently to support children and youth.

For the past four years, Patti Thurston, executive director at the Shuswap Family Centre, has tried a fundraiser, Small Change for Big Change.

Students are given small containers to try to fill with cash on Halloween. The funds help support the centre’s unfunded child and youth programs.

Programs targeted include community counselling, after-school youth groups and youth-to-youth peer groups. A therapeutic cooking program is also offered.

The youth groups are all about connection and fun, while the idea behind the peer groups is connection, “someone to talk to with a safe ear,” Thurston said.

Students in the King’s Christian Grade 10 group have now all been trained in the youth-to-youth peer groups, so for one hour a week they will be at the centre to talk, listen, play VR, whatever the youth who drop in would like.

Thurston explained that a lot of kids don’t need counselling, they just need connection.

The fundraiser lost a little traction during the pandemic, but she was thrilled with the results when the King’s Christian Grade 10s took up the challenge. The school raised a whopping $2,040.

“It’s a big boost to the programs,” Thurston smiled, noting she wants to celebrate and honour what the students have achieved.

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The Grade 10 students were at the Shuswap Family Centre on Nov. 9, as they are also volunteering to do an hour of free childminding each Wednesday to give mothers a break from their duties.

While there, they talked about Small Change for Big Change. Students Emma Braun and Benedict (Ben) Tudan spoke on behalf of the group. They attribute their fundraising success to the good cause they were supporting, and the lure of winning a piñata party.

“I think a big part that made people donate money was the prize of the piñata llama. You could really see it in their eyes…,” remarked Ben. The piñatas were filled with candies and toys.

Classes at King’s Christian competed with one another, with the top three classes each getting a party. Coming in first were the Grade 8s, followed by preschool in second and the Grade 3s, third.

Teacher Ella LaFleur provided a ‘fun fact’ about the Grade 8 class. She said they had to reschedule their piñata party several times because the students wanted to make sure everybody was there – they didn’t want anyone to miss out.

The Grade 10s said they’d like to expand the fundraiser next year, perhaps challenging other schools.

LaFleur, who teaches the Family and Society class, expressed her appreciation for the Grade 10 students.

“They’re doing really great work,” she said, explaining they chose to take the class despite her giving them other options.

“A week after the course started, I said, ‘Why are you still here? Honestly.’

“My favourite answer was, ‘because I think we’re going to have the chance to do something here that we don’t have anywhere else.’ So they set that bar early for me,” she smiled.

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Martha Wickett

About the Author: Martha Wickett

came to Salmon Arm in May of 2004 to work at the Observer. I was looking for a change from the hustle and bustle of the Lower Mainland, where I had spent more than a decade working in community newspapers.
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