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How young students at Stratford's San Francisco De Montfort campus are helping Nanhi Kalis in India

WHAT IT IS AND THE STUDENTS AND TEACHER THAT ARE MAKING IT POSSIBLE

Along with a few 4th and 5th grade students at Stratford's San Francisco campus Ekta Vasishth founded Team Positive in November 2017. Team Positive is a project that aims to support the education of female children in India through selling canvas totes designed by the students.

SELLING TOTES TO HELP YOUNG GIRLS IN INDIA INTERVIEW WITH Ekta Vasishth, THE TEACHER BEHIND THE PROJECT

"The much-awaited Project Positive Totes are here," said Vasishth. "With the purchase of one of these totes, individuals/families help us fund education of a few underprivileged girls in India. Our goal was to sell 50 totes and help educate 10 girls for a year. The cost of each tote is $20. I am glad to announce that we have already sold all 50 to support 10 girls for a year. Ordered additional 25 which are also almost sold out."

All proceeds will go to Nanhi Kali, non-profit organization in India. Please visit www.nanhikali.org for more information.


Picture: Stratford students that have been involved in this project include: (L-R)Ava Nekoomaram, (artist), Bianca Cordero, Chaya Ettenson, Noor Ilami, Shreya Sheth, Joshua Karpanty, Adriene Barki (not pictured)

The funds raised will provide the girls in grades 1-5 with the study materials, uniform, bags, books, and hygiene materials they need. These funds will also be used to help the recipients teachers create a learning environment in the public school they attend.

India Parent Magazine (IPM): Tell us about Team Positive and how it got started?
Ekta Vasishth (EV):Along with a few 4th and 5th grade students at our San Francisco campus I founded Team Positive in November 2017. Team Positive is a project that aims to support the education of female children in India through selling canvas totes designed by the students.

Growing up in India, I was exposed to a large disparity when it came to the education children received. I was most impacted by the sight of female children working at construction sites and providing domestic help to affluent families instead of being in a classroom where they should have been. Unfortunately, despite my empathetic feelings for these girls I didn't do much about it.


Ekta Vasishth, THE TEACHER BEHIND
THE PROJECTTEAM POSITIVE

Thirty years later, along with my principal, Rachel Altreuter's support and encouragement, and our students' leadership, I was finally able to go from simply being empathetic to taking action. And because of this desire to take action, Team Positive was formed. This project is aligned with values our students and staff hold dearly.

IPM: How does Team Positive relate to the Character Counts program?
EV: At Stratford we learn about the six character traits: Responsibility, Fairness, Trustworthiness, Caring, Citizenship, and Respect. Project Positive has been developed to live up to these traits. As a team we have a vision of a world where there is equal opportunity for all children. Through our weekly meetings, our team works diligently to meet project deadlines. In addition to the hard work our team puts in we share a common set of values and are determined to create better opportunities for female children. Thus, Project Positive is a demonstration of responsible, selfless students working towards making this world a better place.

IPM: How did the Team Positive fundraiser come about to support the Nanhi Kali organization? EV: Nanhi Kali is an organization based in India that supports education of underprivileged girls. I came to know about the organization through my son, Rohan Vasishth. While we were living in India a few years ago, my son initiated a similar project at his school to support the education of underprivileged girls, which became my inspiration as well. He had researched a few organizations to support and came across the great work Nanhi Kali does with supporting the girls with their education. In addition to providing academic support to the girls, Nanhi Kali also provides uniform, school bags, shoes, and basic hygiene material to them. Because of the well-rounded support it provides to female children, we chose Nanhi Kali.

IPM: How did the team decide on which organization to support and why?
EV: The aim of the project is to support education of underprivileged girls and provide a learning experience for our students. As I was thinking about the project, I wanted it to be designed by the kids, sold by kids, for the benefit of the kids. Already knowing the great work Nanhi Kali does, I decided to expose their work to our students and got them excited to support the organization.

IPM: Who came up with the idea and design of the Totes?
EV: Team Positive collaborated with Kathleen Kelly, our office administrator and a skilled artist, to decide the art theme, "Blossom", for the totes. Once the theme was decided, we conducted a design contest for our elementary and middle school students, where we were able to discover the wonderful artwork of Ava Nekoomaram, our 6th grade student. The art is now present on the totes!

IPM: What inspired you to start this program?
EV: Stratford's founder Sherry Adams has described Stratford's philosophy as, "Minds on, hands on, and hearts on."

What this means to me is that in addition to focusing on our day-to-day curriculum, our students should develop the values and the skills to make our world a better place by doing meaningful work through a hearts-on approach. I'm proud to be doing just that!

 

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