The heartbreaking images of the war in Ukraine sparked a discussion at home and then a project at school to provide comfort for young refugees fleeing the violence in their homeland.
Late last month, kindergartner, Griffen, asked her mother, Megan Donovan-Chien, about a story they saw on TV about refugees, including young children, who were leaving their homes for safety beyond the borders of their wartorn Ukraine. Griffen asked how they might help them so they discussed the ways individuals and large organizations like UNICEF provide assistance.
Megan then reached out to a Ukrainian artist who she, by chance, had ordered some educational materials from just prior to the start of the war. The artist replied quickly and informed her that her sister and niece were forced to flee to Poland where they are living in a hotel with other refugee families, including almost 60 children. Griffen and her mom then decided that they could help by donating small backpacks filled with school and art supplies for those children.
Once Griffen’s kindergarten teachers, Mrs. Hartvigsen and Mrs. Pryor heard about the project, they were eager to get other Belmont Day classmates involved. This past Friday, they made it a combined effort with the kindergartners’ crossed graded partners in sixth grade. Together the students created colorful and cheerful drawings, inspired by the Ukrainian symbol of sunflowers and the blue and yellow colors of their national flag. Cross-graded partners in seventh and third grades and eighth grade and pre-kindergarten also joined in to create supportive messages and drawings. Each card also includes a message in both Ukrainian and English.
“We are so grateful that our student’s questions of concern at home lead to an effort that we, as teachers and classmates, could share here at school to help and comfort these families and children,” said Ms. Hartvigsen.
Filling the backpacks is being finished now, and they will be shipped to the families in Poland within the week..