Project Change Empowers Children to Become Active Citizens

On November 15, 2012, children from Burris Laboratory School were honored by the Indiana Association of Fundraising Professionals at the Annual Philanthropy Awards Ceremony in Indianapolis. An afterschool club called "Project Change: Kids Changing Lives One Project at a Time" received the Outstanding Youth Achievement Award from the organization. Project Change was hosted by Burris Laboratory Schools and sponsored by the YMCA of Muncie’s Apple Tree Child Development Center/Afterschool program, which is a Professional Development Site for Ball State University’s Teachers College.

The project team included Ball State student Sarah Quinn, who is the YMCA lead teacher and co-director of the afterschool program at Burris. Other team members included Ball State students Joy Hines, Caitlin Sporleder, and Melissa Stultz.

The team was enrolled in Ball State Professor Lynn Staley's Dream Course: Education for Local/Global Citizenship: Creating Caring Communities. The purpose of the course was to equip and empower children in grades K-6 to be active citizens and participants in their communities. Dr. Staley was the recipient of the 2011 BSU Excellence in Teaching Award.  “We cannot afford to wait until Middle/High School to teach our children to consider others - to teach citizenship. The seeds for caring, connecting, and contributing to the needs of others starts early. Children in K-6 may be young but they CAN make a difference; we just need to give them a chance,” says Staley.

To be a member of Project Change, each child performed random acts of kindness at home and in school, in order to earn the coveted Purple Ribbon of Citizenship. Citizenship begins with kindness and helpfulness.

Local Citizenship - After learning that one in four children in Muncie were living in poverty and often ate meals only when in school, the children of Project Change collected enough food to supply more than 100 Spring Break Backpacks to provide meals for local children, in conjunction with Second Harvest Food Bank.

Global Citizenship - In addition, the children of Project Change learned of an orphanage with no school supplies in Malawi, Africa, which was the destination of a BSU Elementary Education Summer Study Abroad with Dr. Tony Kline, so they sponsored an Art for Africa event at the BSU Student Center, where Muncie’s Mayor Tyler was a surprise guest! The children raised over $900 for textbooks and school supplies.

In addition, the children of Project Change were formally recognized for their service and citizenship at the Muncie City Council and the Annual Board Meeting of the YMCA of Muncie last spring. This year, Project Change is not only continuing as an afterschool program at Burris at the children's request, but is also expanding into two additional afterschool classrooms at Apple Tree YMCA Child Development Center. In order to expand to YMCA afterschool programs throughout Madison and Delaware counties, a Project Change Toolkit is being designed to assist interested teachers. The Toolkit will include books, video clips, lesson plans, resources, and a brand new website. Please contact Dr. Lynn Staley for more information at lstaley@bsu.edu.