University Hill Elementary School, located on the University Endowment Lands in Vancouver, has its very own SOS Club (Grades 3-6) that meets every week for activities that support SOS Children's Villages in both BC and around the world. They wrote and sung a beautiful original song for our Executive Director Douglas Dunn, and they have a theme song as well! The club is run by dedicated teacher Eleni Georgantas who used to work for SOS Greece before she relocated to the Lower Mainland.
The major themes Eleni instills through the SOS Club are inclusivity, confidence, social responsibility, and friendship. Children who attend the fundraising fairs put on by the club don't have to spend anything, they can sign their names for free on the welcoming boards that display the school's code of conduct - Be Kind, Be Safe, Be Respectful - that are sent to the SOS Children's Villages in BC and Greece. Everyone is welcome to contribute and create in the SOS Club, using their academic skills for a real-life project. Additionally, Club members are encouraged to be confident and learn leadership skills through leading a committee, and are given a sense of responsibility to think of and help others who aren't as fortunate as themselves. When asked if they have made new friends in the club, everyone raises their hands.
The University Hill SOS Club singing their theme song, We Are the World, after a well-attended Friendship Fair over lunchtime where they sold baked goods, SOS pins and paper roses infused with perfume, raffle tickets, temporary tattoos, and face painting to raise money for SOS Children's Village BC and SOS Greece. The intermediate students held a dance in the gym and had everyone sign a well-wishing board at the entrance that will be given to our Village in Surrey (seen in the upper middle in the video).
"Teaching to a diversity of learning styles and cultures has made me very aware of my passion for working to support inclusion in school settings and global communities. Creating the SOS club at the school was like planting a tiny seed of social responsibility that has quickly blossomed into a garden of friendship that has seen the club’s enrollment grow from 30 students to 67.
The enthusiasm, empathy, leadership and teamwork the group has developed for each other extends into the school community and is evident in the way the school community, students and staff have embraced and supported all the fundraising events the SOS club has created to date, the way that school students have shown many acts of kindness to one another and to their classmates, stepping in to help SOS club members set up our events and even to clean up. Writing letters to the SOS children in Greece with messages of friendship, wishes and hopes written with care. Children helping Children locally - not only globally - and seeing that their contributions, no matter how small, are impacting their peers is one of the most rewarding parts of leading this group of amazing students."
Club member Joyce introduces herself and talks about the song she wrote for SOS BC and then sings it for us.
Their activities include: putting on a regular Fun Fair to raise money, one of the members does finger knitting to help raise funds, and the club created and donated to us gorgeous paper gift bags and holiday greeting cards adorned with their own art. They also made cards just for the foster children who live in our Village in Surrey, as well as artistically arresting paper maple leafs that they sent to Greece. We extend our deepest gratitude to University Hill Elementary. Bravo Eleni and all the kids (there are 67 members!) in the SOS Club - there sure are a lot of them!
View the full photo gallery of the SOS Club's activities by clicking one of these preview images:
"The world is a global village connecting us all and our contributions help to not only raise the SOS children with financial support...they send a message that they are in our hearts, included, respected, and loved.
Having visited the SOS Children’s Village in Vari, Greece, meeting the children, teaching an art activity, I am humbled and I honour the incredible foundation this international organization is building for each child. At the end of my visit, a small little girl shyly thanked me with a hug and gave me a kiss on the cheek. She had not spoken much the whole time I was there, hanging back, listening, observing and letting others talk. However, that one little kiss spoke loudly, expressing gratitude eloquently with the confidence of a little girl who acknowledged that even though she wasn’t the loudest, she had been seen and honoured.”
To be seen and honoured just the way you are, in difficult circumstances, is a small step that covers a lot of emotional distance and can make that tiny flash of light shone on an SOS child’s unknown path become a brilliant beam to guide them safely through childhood. That is worth every recess and lunch hour given up to lead...I am honoured to represent SOS Children’s Village BC as their Ambassador."
Front Cover of the December 10, 2015 Vancouver Sun
The University Hill Elementary School Code of Conduct: Be Kind, Be Safe, and Be Respectful