Kay's Creek Elementary students design leadership projects
From saving bees to learning about zero hunger and collecting donations for pantry packs, each student at Kay’s Creek Elementary participates in a sustainable development project throughout the school year.
For the last three years, students from every grade level have created and implemented projects coinciding with the Sustainable Development Goals adopted by the United Nations Member States in 2015. Each grade level selects one of the goals, students research the problem, then develop projects to help solve an issue.
“The goal for the school was to help create leadership and service opportunities for students by facilitating real-world problem-solving experiences,” said Administrative Intern Courtney Geisler. “We want our students to know that they can make a difference in their community and learn how to put their ideas into action.”
“Having students take the lead on these projects make them more memorable. Students learn empathy and they learn more about their community,” she said. “They learn that they can be a cause for change and that they have valuable ideas that can make a lasting impact.”
This year, kindergarten students learned about food insecurity and helped lead the school in collecting donations and putting together pantry packs of supplemental food for students in need.
“The students couldn't believe there were people without enough food to eat,” said kindergarten teacher Valerie Adams. “We asked for food donations from our school community and took all the donated items to the food pantry located at Layton High School. The whole school became unified as we worked together making posters, boxing up the food items, and really focusing on the basic needs of others.”
In first grade, students studied honeybees as part of the zero-hunger sustainable goal. A beekeeper visited the class and students learned that the population of bees is dropping. Without enough bees to pollinate plants, they learned that the availability of fresh produce diminishes. Students decided to make bee-watering dishes and provide plants in their garden to help attract bees.
Students in the second grade worked on the sustainable goal promoting well-being for all. They learned about what health care professionals have been dealing with during the pandemic and made care packages with over 300 handmade thank you cards for hospital personnel.
“I think the biggest success in this was seeing them realize that little things can go a long way and provide such a big change,” said second-grade teacher Ashley Berezay. “They knew that just these little packages were going to make a big difference in someone's day.”
In third grade, students heard from a guest speaker about what life is like for refugees living in Utah. Students then collected donations for the Utah Refugee Connection that were distributed to refugees living in the area.
Fourth graders learned about clean water for sustainable goal number six. Students were surprised to learn that there are places in the world where students do not have access to clean running water and many girls are not able to attend school because they have the responsibility of walking to get water for the family.
Fourth-grade teacher Sandy Bentley said students researched organizations that provide wells in Africa and spoke via FaceTime with her son, who is stationed in Africa. He talked about the living situations for some in the area. Based on what they learned, students created a presentation and video they presented to the school and began working on a fundraiser for building a well in Africa.
Fifth-grade students selected sustainable goal number three, which encourages good health and well-being. Students designed and donated a tree to Primary Children’s Festival of Trees and received enough funds to donate to Primary Children’s Hospital.
Students in the sixth grade learned about pressing issues in society and selected individual sustainable goal projects that could help. One student walked a dog every day at the animal shelter and shared videos on social media about each dog to help with the adoption process.
“This project has been powerful in making the students aware of the struggles other people are experiencing in the world,” said sixth-grade teacher Kim Martin. “As sixth graders, they are just coming out of the bubble of their small world and realizing that not everyone has the rights, privileges and luxuries that we have here in Kaysville. They are often shocked at what they learn and develop empathy and a desire to make a difference.”