Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Just in Time for Thanksgiving a Videoconference About Giving

Yesterday, a sixth grade class and I participated in a very special videoconference with a very special boy. Stefan Lyons, is an 11 year old, who has been raising money to build a school in Africa. He started his Kenya Project of giving and caring at the tender age of nine. He raised $2,000 baking and selling cookies but he still needed to raise more money to finish the project. So he wrote a book “My Adventures with Stitch” about his pet white rat, Stitch. It is filled with true stories and Stefan took many of the pictures that are in the book. He raised enough money to convert an old cowshed in Kenya into a large schoolroom called “Stefan’s Wing," but now he wants to raise more money to build another school in Kenya. Stefan has now written a second photo journal book about Stich called "Stitch Tours San Francisco" He hopes that by selling his two books he will be able to meet his goal of raising $40,000.

The videoconference which was offered through Polycom's educational programs included classes in New York, South Dakota, Texas and Arizona. With Stefan in San Francisco, all 4 time zones were represented. The students had a chance to ask Stefan a lot of questions about his Kenya Project, about his being an author and about his pet Stitch. When asked if Stitch had learned any new tricks Stefan answered that Stitch has a daughter who could separate legos into light and dark piles. I think everyone would have liked to see that! The classes got to share some of their own fund raising projects. Everybody got to share new ideas on how to raise money. Whenever, Stefan asked "how he could help". The reply was to send some of his books to sell. A group of second graders in Arizona read some of their own pet stories. While one student in Texas shared a story titled "I Am Thankful for My School". It was a humorous tribute to the different rooms and activities in his school. He even got to pay tribute to the school bathroom.

I think the students were truly movitated about giving and helping others. They were inspired by Stefan and how one young boy could make such a difference in our world. This was Stefan's first videoconference. He did great. He has poise, intelligence and a wonderful personality. One student asked if he was becoming a star? Stefan answered modestly that maybe he was a little bit. When the videoconference was over, Stefan, like any other 11 year old, had to go to school.