“Whenever you can, HELP!”
If you are part of the ISLAND PACIFIC ACADEMY community, it’s a familiar refrain you’ve heard many times before. And if you are an IPA student, it’s what you do.
IPA sophomores Dana Cabral ‘22 and Madison Mizon ‘22 knew they wanted to help when they saw the devastating wildfires in Australia earlier this year. Both were looking forward to their IPA Spring Break trip to Australia, New Zealand, and Fiji – led by Sabine Yamamura, Secondary Humanities Teacher – but when they saw what was happening Down Under and realized Australia was in need of assistance, they came up with the idea for a fundraiser called “Change for Change”.
“I really wanted to give back to the community but I didn’t know quite how to,” explains Cabral. “I first thought about making care packages for the homeless, but then I realized that Australia was in deep need.”
She invited her best friend, Mizon, to partner with her on a service project, and the pair brainstormed many ideas, finally settling on “Change for Change” to help the scores of Australian wildlife being displaced by the fires. All the money raised would be donated to the Australian National Parks Service.
“We got super excited and had a lot of ideas – from having a bake sale, selling breakfasts, delivering valentines – but we eventually landed on ‘Change for Change’ because we thought it would be most effective,” shares Mizon.
The two organized the school-wide fundraiser themselves, with guidance and advice from Yamamura.
“I am so proud of Dana and Maddie for wanting to make a positive difference. They have giving hearts and always look out for the well-being of those around them,” says Yamamura. “It helps students to be involved in something bigger than themselves and gives them joy to help in big and small ways, wherever they choose.”
Students from the Elementary and Secondary divisions were invited to participate in the fundraiser, and decorated jars for collecting the coin donations were placed in every Elementary classroom and each of the Secondary Pu’uhuonua classes.
“On the Secondary side, we knew how much our classmates love to compete, so we made it a competition between Pu’uhonua classes for the most amount of change collected, in monetary value,” explains Mizon. The winning Pu’uhonua class for each grade would receive a free-dress day.
But to keep the fundraiser interesting and competitive – and to cleverly raise even more money – they added a twist to the competition.
“If you were to add a dollar bill – not coins – to another classroom’s jar, 100 cents would be subtracted from their total,” said Cabral. “There was a lot of sabotage for every room competing. Rooms would add dollars up to $20 to another Pu’uhonua jar!”
“In addition to the prizes for the most change collected, there was one overall Secondary prize for the most “negative” amount collected for one Pu’uhonua,” adds Mizon. “It was a complicated competition, but it only made students all the more intrigued and engaged, they were very strategic!”
While there was no official competition in the Elementary division, you wouldn’t know it from what the younger students collected.
“The Elementary students were able to raise an amazing amount of money. Some rooms set up their own little competition. Others just leisurely added any amount that they would like,” added Cabral.
“Students, parents and teachers were all very involved – you’d have thought there was a competition! One homeroom, Mr. Villaluz’s, collected over $100!” shares Mizon.
Many at IPA wanted to contribute. When Dora Chilton, Secondary Design Technology teacher, heard about “Change for Change” she and her Grade 6 students came up with an idea to help with the fundraiser. Her students researched the types of wildlife found in Australia and created colorful drawings of the animals, which they used to make buttons, keychains, stickers, and magnets to sell. It was an authentic learning experience for the middle school students – from using design thinking and technology to solve a problem, to marketing and manufacturing – and provided another way for them to give back.
Although Cabral and Mizon originally planned to deliver their donation to the Australian National Parks Service in person, as ambassadors of IPA, the cancellation of their trip put a damper on that.
“Instead of just mailing in the money, we are going to continue with the original plan in October 2021 when we are hoping to go on our make-up trip,” explains Mizon.
When asked why they wanted to take on such an endeavor, both Cabral and Mizon attributed it to a responsibility to give back to their community – one of the core values nurtured at IPA.
“We grew up around the saying ‘Whenever you can, help!’ and it really became one of my core values. We wanted to give back to the community and help those in need,” explains Cabral. “I am glad to go to a school with wonderful opportunities and passionate people.”
“We are being raised in a culture that encourages us to do what we can to benefit the community. It really shows. When we made the announcement to Elementary about the fundraiser, you wouldn’t believe the looks on the students’ faces. They were so excited!” shares Mizon. “After the announcement, Mr. Ross prompted them with “Whenever you can…” and everyone shouted “HELP!” It was great,” says Mizon.
“These wonderful young women have taken to heart the motto ʻWhenever you can, help!ʻ” shares Yamamura. “I am so proud of our students for their willingness to be part of the solution, no matter what the problem may be.”
And the results? “Change for Change” and the contributions from Chilton’s Grade 6 class raised $1,508.52 for the Australia National Parks Service – much, much more than the $400 Cabral and Mizon were expecting!