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Student takes the cause beyond the classroom

It was just two weeks ago when Dave Ellis, a Grade 4 teacher at John Mahood Public School, gave his students a Genius Hour Project, asking them to dive into a topic about which they are interested or passionate. Students were asked to research, create, and share information related to their topic of choice to the class, while broadening their horizon on something which may inspire them.

Going beyond the classroom, one of his students created a fundraiser to help benefit a wildlife organization,  a first in the three years Ellis has been carrying out the exercise.

Josie Gollek took the creation portion of her assignment further and put something forward in the form of a GoFundMe campaign, raising money for Soper Creek Wildlife Rescue. Feeding off of her love for animals, Josie chose the cause for her project because she hopes to one day work for an organization like Soper Creek.

“I [wanted] to pick wildlife rescue because I want to be a wildlife rescuer when I grow up. So, I wanted to do it so I can learn more about it,” said Josie.

She says she did a fundraiser for part of her project because she wanted to help the animals and give back to Soper Creek, a sanctuary in Durham Region.

“I wanted to do a fundraiser for Soper Creek Wildlife Rescue because that is my favourite wildlife rescue place. They have lots of birds of prey that are coming in, and they need money to get stuff to help them.”

Josie started out with a goal of $250, however, she very quickly surpassed that – raising more than $1,600 thus far – and her goal currently sits at $2,500.

Her mother, Cynthia McDonald, says Josie did a lot of research into wildlife rescue organizations and when she found Soper Creek, she realized they not only house animals that could not be released back into the wild, but they also had many of her favourite animals. She says Josie has also had a lot of fun watching live events on Facebook, and it really made her want to help the group.

Included in her presentation will be a spot about how she sponsored an animal, and information about how others can follow in her footsteps.

Ellis says he is proud of the work Josie has done, bringing a new aspect to the project he has not seen a student do during the time he has been assigning the Genius Hour Project.

“Obviously, I’m really proud of it, I think… this was a really cool story. This is a student that stepped up and tried something new and different and kind of exciting, so absolutely I’m proud of her, and in her efforts. I’m really pleased with the amount of response she’s gotten from donors as well [that] has been really cool,” said Ellis. “Kids really can make a difference, they can if they put their mind to something and follow their passion. They can really make a real difference in the world.”

Josie intends to continue fundraising in one way or another once her project has wrapped, she hopes one day to visit Soper Creek Wildlife Rescue to meet some of her favourite animals, and eventually work there.

Click here to donate to her campaign.

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