Giving back is so much part of the JAGS ethos that it seemed natural that we should be involved in the Big Give Philanthropy in Schools project; but the experience is worth more than the Â£25 donation vouchers the pupils each earn for their chosen charities. The idea of this citizenship project is that pupils take the first step towards a lifetime of charitable giving. 18 girls from Year 9 in six groups researched the activities and financial accounts of different UK and worldwide charities, including Make A Wish, Sense for Deaf/Blind People, the Wulugu Project, Centre Point, the Teenage Cancer Trust and the World Youth Education Trust. Selecting the best charity to propose for an even bigger donation, each group presented its findings to a panel, justifying the reasons for its choice. Then itâ€™s up to a visiting philanthropist to decide whoâ€™s made the best case.
â€œIt was a new experience. I learnt new things and how to help in different ways.â€ – Priya
The girls made eloquent cases for their choices, showing very good levels of analysis, structured and well organised presentations. Powerpoint presentations added colour; sometimes the case studies were vivid enough on their own, such as the contrasts Morgen and Fiona drew between the life of a teenager with cancer and their own, parallel lives. Sometimes thepresentations were powerful precisely because they girls couldnâ€™t imagine the parallels, such as being homeless, or a child soldier.
â€œWeâ€™ve never really worked together before and weâ€™ve grown together and become more aware of the world around us.â€ – Rebecca
Questions and answers satisfied the panel and finally Philanthropist Randi Weaver, the Headmistress, the Bursar and Head of Sixth Form and Community Action made its decision public. The top prize, a Â£100 voucher, was won by Priya and Rebecca to donate to the Wulugu Charity which seeks to return girls from slavery in Northern Ghana. Itâ€™s a local project to boost the local economy, working with local people on the ground to ensure that there are enough places at primary school for the girls. Female teachers act as good role models. Priya and Rebecca quoted a particular project in Karaga, North Ghana, where the charity is building a vocational school for 300 girls, together with a hostel and toilet block. Everything it can do to teach skills to the girls so that they can become independent. The panel was impressed by Priya and Rebeccaâ€™s thoughtful approach; theyâ€™d even spoken to the founder who had given them details not available on the website: www.wulugu.co.uk and impressed them with how much good they do with a small amount of funding.
They were worthy winners. But then, all the girls were winners. As Randi Weaver said, not only had they collaborated and learned about different charities, but they would keep this approach to giving for the rest of their lives. They have learned to assess how charities spend their money and to understand how the work of a charity affects one personâ€™s life.
View The Big Give 2011 Photos on Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/65726258@N08/sets/72157627354885168/
James Allenâ€™s Girlsâ€™ School Community Coordinator: