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“Beating Cancer with Faith, Optimism and Humor”: How EF Academy supports Leukemia Awareness

Our Prep, grade 9 and grade 10 students have been working very hard on our Leukemia Awareness project since October 2018. During their MAPS advisory sessions, our students learned about what cancer is and about the many different types of cancer that exist in the world. One type that they focused on specifically is a blood and bone marrow cancer called Leukemia. They not only learned how it affects children and adult patients, but also discuss the impact that this devastating disease brings to cancer patients, their caregivers, their family members, and their friends.

Student involvement in raising awareness

In order to bring awareness to our school community, our students wrote posters in both English and in their first languages about Leukemia’s impact on cancer patients. They painted our school walls with messages of hope, designed banners about Leukemia, made videos to help teach their peers, and participated in several events that raised money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS). It was very inspiring to see that our students took on this fight as if it was their own. They were so excited about this cause that they took initiative to develop their own fundraising activities, such as a video game competition and a bake sale that helped raise a lot of money. It was very rewarding to see students come out of their shells and work on projects together, independent of faculty.

Students selling treats after school to raise money for Leukemia Awareness

This year was our sixth Leukemia Awareness campaign at EF Academy New York. Our students and staff members have always had a lot of fun raising money for LLS! For this awareness week, our students kicked off the campaign by making a “Wall of Hope” in the school dining hall. Prep, Junior and Senior students used part of their lunch time to encourage students to donate any quantity of money they could. Whenever a student donated, our volunteers put the students’ names on the wall, symbolizing that we are all fighting this disease together.

A new event each day

On Monday, our students had a very successful bubble tea sale, where they not only worked to promote the event, but actually made and sold some delicious bubble tea to our students and faculty. “The bubble tea sale was a blast and it was obvious that the students involved could see firsthand the fruits of their hard work,” said Vera Ball, a teacher of many of the students involved in the project. “They were learning to work together, being exposed to different perspectives, and of course, raising money for Leukemia Awareness.”

On Tuesday, we had our very popular “Homework Pass Sale,” and our students excitedly made the passes to help their peers get a free pass on an assignment. Our Director of Experiential Learning, Alexandra Levitt, helped guide us through this project and kept accountability of each pass that was sold. On Wednesday, we invited all faculty to break the dress code and come to work in their favorite comfy clothes. In order to get away with this casual day, each staff member contributed $1 to LLS.

Thursday was an especially busy day! During our MAPS advisory sessions, we had our “Stop the Clock” activity. This was a fun activity because our students were tasked with bringing in any loose change they had to the classroom. Before they could start their class, the teachers had to count all of the coins. The more coins, the longer it took to start class – some teachers spent more than 20 minutes just counting all of the coins! “This was a great opportunity to engage with our international students about how the USA is a leader in raising awareness and fundraising for those in need, no matter what the cause,” explained teacher Jean Rivot. “They experienced and learned more about teamwork, organization, charity, leukemia, and follow-through when organizing an event. The enthusiasm grew as they saw the donations come in, which made it more rewarding for all of them. Great kids, every one of them.”

Sharing my story

In the afternoon, I had the incredible opportunity to share my story with the school community. As a Leukemia Survivor, this cause is especially close to my heart, and I enjoyed being able to share my experience with this disease while officially launching my book: Beating Cancer with Faith, Optimism and Humor. Ten percent of the sales of my book will go toward LLS. Following the book sale, we enjoyed pastries and homemade cookies at our bake sale, another student-driven fundraising initiative. On Friday, the final day of our Leukemia Awareness week, we celebrated all of our hard work with a pizza sale.

We are so proud to share that all of our efforts this week made quite a difference, with our school community raising over $2000 in just five days! We hope that this campaign can help researchers find the cure for this disease. At EF Academy New York, our goal is to ensure that our students are not only academically driven, but also that we are educating them to become empathetic members of our world, dedicated to helping others who are in need. We are very proud that all our students are involved in a CAS project (Creativity, Activity, Service). Seeing our students at such a young age going above and beyond all expectations in order to help people they don’t even know shows us that education is so much more than teaching content. It’s teaching lessons that will help all students become well-rounded, considerate, dedicated human beings.

The students truly did learn and recognize how important it is to dedicate their time to others. “I really liked this project, how we helped to raise money and awareness for people who have Leukemia,” said Michael. “Helping with this project makes my life feel more meaningful, and I look forward to doing more activities like this.” Dila, another student who helped plan and execute the Leukemia Awareness Week activities, also reflected on her experience: “I think this project has beneficial parts for each of us, such as being a good person and donating, being a part of selling, making posters, and telling everyone about this important cause. When I participated in the events this week, I felt like I and my fellow students did a favor for these people who need our help. Next year, I hope even more people will be involved in this project.”

If you are interested in supporting our project in the fight against cancer, please donate here.

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