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Destination Imagination

By Andrea Buffara MS Principal, Escola Americana of Rio de Janeiro Destination Imagination is a project that is dear to our hearts at EARJ. We have a group of committed and dedicated  individuals led by Ana Melo our program coordinator and Patricia Slomp a team leader and parent at our school. Their unwavering passion and enthusiasm keeps the program going year after year. This year we had a few teams make it to the Global Finals in Knoxville, Tennessee. I would like to dedicate this article, however, to one project in particular. I am not implying it is the best project, but it was one that extended past our school and touched the lives of an elderly community run by the state government Abrigo Christo Redentor in Bom Sucesso. Like all institutions that rely on the state, this one wants for many things. Our students, however, didn’t just want to give them material things. That would have been too easy. These students understood that the one common thing that binds us to each other is our humanity. They wanted to impact and make a mark on these elderly people personally. It took a while for the DI Team Cookie Monsters Eat Green to come up with their idea. They did know from the start that they wanted to work with the elderly, but they weren’t sure in what capacity. Why the elderly? one might ask. They claimed that people always help animals and children, but never old people. They felt old people are not venerated anymore; an interesting insight from such young people. Once they identified their target population they wracked their brains for something that would bring the elderly joy. They decided upon a beauty salon day for the old folks. They wanted the elderly to feel special and cherished. They took an active role and crafted the entire experience on their own.

First they had to fundraise. They knew they needed some money to make this special day viable. A few months ago they ran a successful “food sale” during lunch at our school. They sold lasagna and milkshakes; strange combination, but hugely successful. They raised 2,000 reais, which they saved to purchase items for the salon they were going to run. With this money they bought hair accessories, make up and nail polish. They also provided snacks and refreshments for the old folks. They asked them what they wanted and the unanimous request was cheese. Something we take for granted and which for them is a delicacy. The DI team bought 10 kgs of cheese, ham and 40 packets of bread, 80 liters of sodas and juice. Not content with what they could purchase on their own, they solicited donations from parents at our school and even companies. Granado, a cosmetics company donated nail polish, deodorant , soaps and talcum powder. A parent drive provided additional deodorant and body lotion. Finally, with all their supplies in hand the big day finally arrived. They arrived early to set up and spent a Saturday mingling and giving their time to the old people.

Words can’t describe the event. That is why I have included a link to a video the children put together. //www.youtube-nocookie.com/v/T0O87SiBYaM?version=3&hl=en_US&rel=0 Global Finals is coming up. This team may not win. However, in my mind they are leaning something very valuable-social responsibility.

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