Every once in a while a story comes along about people doing extraordinary things that makes even the crankiest of people (like me) think the world is doing pretty well after all.
A school in California is raising the bar on what kids can accomplish after a group of fourth and fifth-grade kids built a tiny house for a homeless veteran.
Yes, you read that right!
Kids at the Santa Clarita Valley International Charter School in Castaic got to help Starting Human founder, Elvis Summers on one heck of a project. They raised thousands of dollars through a Go Fund Me campaign and then built a 28′ x 8′ foot home for the homeless.
Tina Toval, one of the teachers at the school, explained to Babble that the charter school is a project-based learning school that aims to help kids acquire skills through hands-on projects. “For this particular project, we wanted to focus on the content standards of landforms, geography, regions, rocks, weathering, climate, natural disasters, and sustainability,” she said. Adding, “We really wanted to come up with a way to teach these concepts in a way that would spark the interest of 9 and 10-year-olds, and make it as hands on and engaging as possible.”
And boy, did they hit the mark on this one. The group dreamed up an incredible idea for building a tiny house, just like the trending housing plans you see on shows like Tiny House Hunters or Tiny House, Big Living.
Toval tells Babble they had a pretty specific idea in mind for their students:
“We decided that they could create their home in any area of the world they wanted to live in, as long as their construction and design factored in all the landforms and environmental factors within their region. Their first steps of the project involved the learners researching about their chosen area of the world, creating blueprints, and budgeting, all the way to creating pictures, and scale models of their tiny homes.”
The teachers and students were then fortunate enough to be introduced the talented Elvis Summers, a locally-known philanthropist and tiny house builder in the Los Angeles area. It turns out that Summers had heard about what the kids were up to and wanted to help. Toval shares with Babble, “He has played such a huge role in this process and quickly and eagerly helped us brainstorm, and get things going for our construction.”
The community received a fantastic example of compassion in action with the construction of a new, safe home for a person in need. And the kids? Toval tells Babble that they received a lot more:
“The experience these kids are having with this project is truly life-changing. They are seeing first-hand how a group of determined, dedicated, and hard-working people can make a difference. They are seeing that at the young age of 9 and 10, they can be an inspiration to others.”
What an empowering thing for young kids to see! Anyone with heart and a solid plan can make a huge impact on the world, as these kids are learning firsthand. Toval continues:
“And as the teachers, we love that we can show them that the learning never stops and project-based learning is never over. The fact that we can take learning outside of the classroom and out into the community for a larger purpose is more than we could ever wish for. Additionally, they get the honor and privilege of working with Elvis, who is an inspiration himself and a true role model. He’s showing them through his own life that we are all put on this earth to help each other.”
This isn’t the typical kind of school lesson we hear about every day, so I wondered if perhaps this ingenuity and spirit were part of the school’s culture. Toval explains that students are taught to be active participants in their communities:
“This project is 100 percent what our school culture lives, breathes, and bleeds. Our school focuses not only on project-based learning, and building 21st century skills, but also on developing the whole child. Our kids learn how to be well-rounded citizens who demonstrate empathy, respect, compassion, and acceptance. We teach our learners to leave things better than they found them, and that includes our world. When our kids come to school, they aren’t just at school, they are home, and we are family.”
So, what does the community think of all this? Well, they are pretty impressed. Not only have the students received a lot of help with donations, supplies, and word of mouth, but according to Toval, “Other communities have heard about what we are doing as well, and several people have offered to volunteer their time just so they can be a part of it. It’s been so great watching people wanting to come together for a great purpose.”
Well done, kids and teachers! This is the kind of project-based learning that will change the world.