There is plenty of excitement among a group of Grade 6 students gathered in the Shoreline Community Middle School library.
The students, part of the leadership-focused Youth Creating Inclusion club at the school in View Royal, are buzzing around three wooden boxes. The containers are filled with newborn baby clothes, niceties for new moms and supplies to start them off once they leave the maternity ward at Victoria General Hospital.
“It’s nice to feel we’re a part of something that makes a difference in someone’s life,” says Krystina Kearney, one of the youth who worked on the Let’s Go Home project overseen by Shoreline educational assistant Emily Urbaniak.
The project saw students go out on lunch hours to request donated items from area merchants and community groups, then spend a pro-D day hand-sanding and painting the roughly 30 boxes assembled by volunteers with Campbell Construction. Each box is decorated with its own design, making them unique to their eventual owners.
The boxes, due to be delivered by the students to VGH on Thursday (Feb. 5), contain everything from “onesies,” bottles, baby formula and socks and mittens for the infants, to hand-knitted toques and scarves for the moms.
“We hope they go to moms in need when they get given out,” says student Olivia Woods.
Adds schoolmate Lassah Johnson: “This is our way of welcoming new babies into the world.”
Shoreline principal Nadine Naughton, who moved over from Gordon Head middle school to start this school year, brought the Youth Creating Inclusion concept with her.
The goal, she says, is to get young people talking about “doing the right thing because it’s the right thing to do,” about altruism, practising kindness and about the social justice requirements of living in harmony in a complex world where not everyone is the same.
Urbaniak had previously taken a course on making a difference in one’s community and generating momentum for a cause. When she approached Naughton about the baby box idea, the principal figured the charitable project could be a perfect match with students in YCI.
It was an instant hit.
“I’m present to how passionate kids are to create change in the world,” Urbaniak says.
The project is an illustration of community and how the pieces all fit together, with youth, adult volunteers and the beneficiaries – the moms and babies – each playing a role, she adds.
Naughton, noting that YCI’s 30 or so members include an increasing number of adults, says, “Kids at this age naturally want to lead, and sometimes they need a nudge. This project gives them an opportunity to do that.”
For more information about Youth Creating Inclusion, or to help out with other school projects, contact Shoreline at 250-386-8367.