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IN THE SPOTLIGHT
LCS Grant Recipients Honored With Prestigious Awards
By Lana Captan Ghandour 01-Jun-16
When the Advancement Office at Lincoln Community School (LCS) in Accra, Ghana launched a Loyalty Card Program in collaboration with the school’s Parent Teacher Organization in early 2015, no one anticipated that the program would quickly transform a number of LCS students into award-winning social innovators and philanthropists recognized throughout Africa. The Loyalty Card program was launched by LCS as a way to nurture strong partnerships between the school community and various business sectors in Accra, and intended as a resource mechanism for funding student grants. Many local businesses, restaurants, and service providers have joined the program since it was launched in early 2015. Loyalty Card sales provide funding for grants that are offered to students twice a year. Those awarded grants must demonstrate their project’s global significance, cultural relevance, sustainability, and counterpart commitment. Two grants, awarded in the first semester of 2015, went to sibling team Hannah and Roy Park, for their “Carts with Hearts” and GISS student project entitled “Books for Change.” Both went on to receive respectively the 2016 Association of International Schools in Africa (AISA) Outstanding Service Project Award and AISA Student Leader Award. Hannah and Roy Park, who are in Grades 11 and 12, attracted widespread local media attention with their Carts with Hearts project. “We love fruits, and when we arrived in Ghana the first thing we noticed while buying fruits off the roadside was that vendors around Accra dragged heavy carts along often bumpy roads,” said the siblings, who are from Korea. Through their project, the pair wanted “to produce trucks or carts that are more ergonomically comfortable to use,” reducing physical stress and freeing vendors up to move carts faster and more efficiently. “With more efficient carts, the fruit vendors will have the ability to maneuver well and carry items more safely,” explained the siblings. Before Roy and Hannah started designing the carts, they interviewed vendors to understand their needs. Then they produced sketches for a new chart, refining them as they gathered more information. “We realized that two wheels would be easier to pull than a four-wheel cart,” said Roy. “We added a top to the cart to protect the seller and the fruit from the scorching sun,” he continued. They even added compartments to store the fruits for better conservation and a sliding tabletop mechanism so that they can cut the fruits in a more hygienic way. The cart will really help fruit sellers, who typically rent carts for US$0.50 a day, “which is a big chunk of their income,” explained Roy. “One of the fruit vendors, Frederick, who is 17 years old, wants to be an engineer like my brother, Roy, so we decided to donate our first cart to him,” said Hannah. Hannah will continue the project on her own next year after Roy graduates from LCS in June. Since the AISA award carries with it a financial award of US$2,500 to further achieve the service learning goals of the project, Carts with Hearts will have some seed money to launch the second phase of the project which, according to Hannah, involves building and distributing more carts. The second recipient of AISA’s award, Adoma Addo, led the Books for Change (BFC) group, made up of tenth- and twelfth-grade students who renovated a library at Abelemkpe Basic School in Accra. According to Adoma, the BFC’s renovation process “included repainting the walls, rebuilding shelves, and providing new books that are more suitable than those the school’s library currently has.” Addo was selected by AISA as the winner of the Student Service Leader award because she “has used learning, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills to address an expressed community need.” The Student Service Leader award comes with US$1,500, which will go a long way to ensuring the long-term sustainability of her project, whose motto is “No minds left behind.” Another group of elementary students were awarded a grant of GHC1500 (US$400), which enabled them to host workshops with local artists. Their project, titled “The Art of Freedom” raised an additional US$2,600 for the Right to be Free Foundation, which is an organization whose efforts go to the rescue, rehabilitation, and integration of trafficked children in Africa and broadens public awareness of human trafficking issues in the region. The fourth-grade students raised funds by auctioning artwork at an exhibition entitled “The Art of Freedom,” held at the Alliance Française. The design of the Loyalty Card grant program allows students to learn the fundamentals of the grant application process. Students are involved in writing proposals, preparing budgets, presenting their ideas to a committee, and reporting on project results. “The Loyalty Card grant program had a multi-faceted purpose from the beginning,” explained Cynthia Davis Hall, LCS Director of Advancement. “We wanted to engage our community, support student service learning, and encourage our students to impact a wider world. Having AISA recognize two service-learning projects in its first year has made our community very proud of our students and their commitment to impacting a wider world.” Lana Captan Ghandour is a freelance journalist.
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