Carmel High students accept community service challenge

Carmel >> A few months back, Carmel High School junior Noah Bernal Parker was asked by his teacher what he would like to do to help out the community.

The athlete in him motivated him to say he’d like to help kids who can’t play a sport because of the lack of equipment or because they simply don’t know how to play.

That idea might actually come to life after he was introduced to the Spero Challenge during a workshop at the school on Wednesday. There, a group of members and non-members from This Club Saves Lives were given the task to take on a project that aims to help change lives

“This is really going to happen, that’s why I’m excited,” Bernal Parker said. “I can actually do this. I can actually create a baseball game with kids that have never played before and I can teach them how to play … Give them something to do.”

The Spero Challenge was recently launched in Monterey County by Brian Bajari. He started the movement to help improve local communities by empowering students to identify challenges and providing solutions. The idea is to get students from fifth grade and higher to attend workshops where they identify community challenges, create a business plan, propose solutions, receive funding and launch their projects.

“That’s the beauty of it, (it’s) giving the freedom to think and act and the permission to act on their own,” Bajari said. “These students are going to come up with unique, creative and powerful solutions for our community. It’s going to have a ripple effect into the fabric of our neighborhoods and into the fabric of how we see each other.”

The students will also have a chance to work with mentors and are given the opportunity to be the CEO of their own student-led service projects in their local community. Bajari, who has organized outreach efforts to the homeless in Monterey among other things, said the kids are encouraged to collaborate with other students to achieve their goals.

Leigh Cambra, a Carmel High health teacher and This Club Saves Lives coordinator, has been trying put together a class at the school similar to the Spero Challenge.

“This would be an amazing way to kick off that idea because we have so many students here that are really passionate about helping other people,” Cambra said. “To be able to give them an organized way to do it and to give them a mentor, I think that’s so neat.”

Human trafficking, mental health and helping the elderly were just some of the issues that students shouted out during Wednesday’s workshop. The club is currently working on gathering school supplies like backpacks, pencils and notebooks for an elementary school in Salinas so that kids can start with all the tools they need to begin the school year.

“It’s things that they see, it’s things that they hear about and then some of it is really close to home for them,” Cambra said.

Bernal Parker said there’s this idea of people wanting to make a change but nobody really continues to push through and do it. He grew up in Salinas and was always around his dad, who would help those in need with food and water.

“So, I learned from him and then our school would do donations where I’d sponsor a kid. That’s originally where I thought of it,” Bernal Parker said.

Bernal Parker already had some experience of giving back to the community last year during Christmas. He decided that he didn’t want to receive any gifts and instead wanted to supply people in need with care packages for the holidays. That was also about the time he met with Bajari where they came up with the idea of asking his teachers and classmates to help raise funds.

“They have so much empathy themselves and I think this generation just feels so empowered that one person can make a difference,” Cambra said.

Cambra said she’s taken the club on trips where the students meet people who have started a movement like WE Day, which was created by brothers Craig and Marc Kielburger more than 20 years ago.

The brothers started the movement with a vision to empower children and connect them with both global and social issues.

“You see that just a couple of people with an idea and then you just start getting it out there and you get some movement behind it,” Cambra said. “It doesn’t take much money, it doesn’t take a lot of celebrity to actually make a big change and I think this generation sees that.”

Bernal Parker said he’s going to continue pursuing the sports program for less fortunate kids, even if it means getting a big van to round them up for a baseball game.

“If we can take them from their home to a baseball field with equipment there, it’d be amazing,” he said. “And I’m not trying to go with one event, I’m trying to create something that can be sustainable and go on for as long as I can make it go on for…. I’m trying to keep this going.”

Juan Reyes can be reached at (831) 726-4360

 

Today This Club Saves Lives sponsored a Spero workshop at Carmel High School. Twenty five students worked on solutions to problems in the Monterey Bay Area. Stay tuned for updates on their projects!

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IMG_9419 What was your favorite or most inspiring moment(s) from this trip? What will you never forget? How will this trip ignite a passion?

Being in the Forum with 16,000 people who got to hear and feel the power of Grace’s poem, Letter to My Future Daughter. Chills.  Also, being a part of making 100 lunches for the homeless and 400 gift bags for Thirst Project and learning about what other youth are doing to make the world a little better for others.  Super excited to see what service projects we will take on next year and how I can support our club members! -Mrs. Randazzo

Seeing all the examples of normal people that pursued their ideas and made the difference was really inspirational. I realized that it’s possible to make a big change with passion, dedication and determination. – Gigia

Being able to perform in front of thousands of people with some of my closest friends. – Madi

Just having the privilege to watch how much the dance has evolved and impacted so many lives is inspiring. – Hannah

Being given the opportunity of a lifetime to dance alongside my peers, in a stadium filled with people determined to improve the world was an unforgettable experience, and one that I know I have grown from. -Kristin

Helping out at Baby2Baby, the Dream Center and making lunches for the homeless was incredibly inspiring but mainly seeing how giving back to people has a ripple effect of happiness, compassion, and positivity. By doing more for the community it ignites a particular passion for wanting to help and heal more because one sees how such a small act can have a huge impact. – Karenna

It was an unforgettable and life changing experience to perform in front of thousands of people standing together for a great cause. It was an honor to be a part of the movement. -Molly   

Being able to be with a group of people I go to school with every day and get inspired together was very empowering. It was amazing to help with Baby2Baby, make homeless lunches, and learn about the life-changing work they do at the Dream Center. Hearing all the speakers at WEday talk about the good they are doing in the world gives hope to all the people who attended and inspires us to join in on the movement. We are inspired and reminded that WE are the change we want to see in the world. It was an extremely fun and inspiring trip that I am glad that I had the chance to be a part of. 🙂 – Melanie

So much from this trip has impacted me and has left me itching to do more to help people in our community and around the world. I loved talking with everyone on the bus and getting to hear people’s thoughts on what is happening in the world and ideas about what we can do to help more people together. I loved touring the Dream Center and getting to see the wide range of incredible work they do. I loved going to Thirst Project and seeing their reactions when we got all of the bags filled. I also loved hearing all of the inspirational speeches and stories at WE Day, but also seeing and feeling the love that filled up the arena after the dance. I am so excited to start new projects with the club and to see people’s ideas come to life. – Caroline

This trip was absolutely incredible in a multitude of ways for me and the biggest message I got from the whole experience is that a single individual has the ability to impact their community, even the world, no matter how old they are and how many people tell them they can’t. On the first day, we had the opportunity to tour the Dream Center and hear about how a teenager was able to make such a large impact on his community through his passion and determination to help those struggling around him. It was so inspiring to see how the Dream Center takes in people of all sorts who are struggling with drug addiction, abuse, poverty and so many other issues and helps them get back on their feet and live a happy life. It was also really cool to volunteer at the Thirst Project because our club has been working with them for a few years and to see where our efforts are going created a full circle moment for me. The actual WE Day experience was also incredible and inspiring because we got to hear how all of these youth are activists in their communities and taking steps to fight and solve the issues they recognize in their communities. After seeing all of these young people making changings in their community I so inspired and motivated to do the same in ours. –Serena 

Being able to inspire and empower so many people through dance is a memory I will never forget, and being able to come together as a class made it more of an experience. – Mallory

Standing on the stage after the dance ended and just feeling overwhelmed by the reactions of the crowd. It was such an honor to be apart of this movement and have the opportunity to inspire others along with so many amazing presenters. -Megan 

Most memorable moment? All of it! From the moment we boarded the bus on Tuesday morning to the last hour of the long ride back on Thursday night, I was filled with a sense of hope and exhilaration! The shift in focus from Me to We is the message that permeated all of our activities on this trip. This trip showed all of us how very important it is to find our own pathway to creating a life with purpose and joy. The Dream Center tour, helping out at Baby to Baby and the Thirst Project were all fantastic opportunities for us to see the many, many ways organizations big and small can help people in need. In working side by side with the students and listening to their conversations, I was awed with how our students truly feel connected with their passion to serve others. The WEDay event was full of inspirational stories of how people of any age or “station” in life can make a difference. But when Grace and the dancers performed her powerful poem in such a huge and energized venue, you could feel the love and connection shift to even a deeper level. The truth and beauty in that moment will be etched forever in my heart. Huge thanks to Leigh, Kristine and Bridget for organizing this trip! And even bigger thanks for letting me come along as a chaperone. I am excited and honored to support our students in future service projects. -Ms. Govan

It’s easy to feel lost and confused and overwhelmed making decisions that affect just yourself. Where am I going to go to college? How am I going to choose between two options? What WeDay teaches you is that that’s not what is really going to matter. What matters is that in one day thousands of people gathered into a stadium and congratulated each other, cheered on each other, and recognized each other. And the applause our small dance company received shows just how powerful that is. That roar of cheers was made up of individuals, but together they created a wave that passed over us on stage. I could feel the togetherness and the support and I could hear what happens when people abandon the self and embrace the whole — an ocean’s roar. -Becca

Standing on the stage before the dance started, and looking out and up at everyone in the audience. You could feel the energy in the room, and I knew this was a once in a lifetime moment. I am so thankful I was able to be a part of something so powerful. – Mahayla

Empowerment and Inspiration; two words that settle into my mind when I think about the We Day trip, I don’t think of the vast amount of celebrities that flooded the arena. I think amount the service we do, the effect we have on society. I think about the thousands of people who dedicate their lives to helping others and how inspiring these people are. My all time favorite place to visit is the thirst project because the employees that work there and the amount of work that each individual puts into that organization is inspiring, and just visiting each year and seeing all the new things they’ve done to help people globally gives a person hope for future generations. Also going to baby2baby again was an unforgettable experience because it was all the club members together making a difference for people who live in our state and our neighborhood. The whole trip made me personally believe in myself and believe in the difference we can make. – Aminah 

We Day was one of the most memorable experiences in my life because I was able to transmit a strong message that most women don’t know. I never thought that I would present in front of 16,000 people. I’m really thankful that I was able to be a part of such a great cause, and I hope that many people feel inspired to love themselves. -Cristal 

WE Day was such an amazing opportunity to see and be apart of. Being so close to so many inspirational people was an unforgettable experience. Moreover, having the chance to be apart of the change through volunteering and performing was well worth the journey. The suport seen from the crowd was inspirational, and shed a light of hope on the capabilities of our generation.   – Maile 

WE Day itself really inspired me to do more to help out our community. Being able to volunteer at Baby2Baby made me feel great about myself, just knowing that I was helping a family in need. The Thirst Project has always inspired me, the actions they perform in those third world countries are unheard of, and they really make an impact. Overall, this trip taught me that I do have a voice, and I can accomplish whatever I want to. -Quinci 

Being a part of such an inspirational event was truly an unforgettable experience. I am so grateful to have been able to perform on the WE Day stage spreading the message of self love. The amazing support from the 16,000 people as the poem/dance was ending created this feeling I will always remember. -Lucy

Overall the three days that we spent together in LA were empowering, fun, and life-changing. From volunteering at Baby2Baby to dancing in front of 16,000 people it was an incredible trip. I am so grateful that we were invited to perform and were given this opportunity, it is something I will never forget. -Natalie

Seeing Grace read her beautiful poem while CHS dancers moved gracefully in the background was truly an incredible moment that brought me to tears. Although I was watching it mostly through a camera screen, feeling the power of Grace’s voice reach thousands of people felt so inspiring. I’m so proud of the hard work and careful thought Grace put into her poem. I’m also in awe of the intricate dance Natalie choreographed and all of the dancers put on. This was truly a moment I’ll never forget. -Julia

I loved volunteering at Baby2baby! Seeing all of the donations and how many people truly care about helping others was so inspiring. It’s wonderful to know that so many other people care and want others to have the resources they need. That being said, the thirst project was also a lot of fun! It was nice and laid back, and it showed that even the smallest actions can help! -Cassie

 

Carmel High School performing arts students took the WE Day stage performing Letter to My Future Daughter in front of 16,000 people. Written by Grace Heidtke and choreographed by Natalie Lobo, accompanied by Kenshi Husted on violin.

Coral took the stage with PACSUN to share her “why” and passion for combatting human trafficking.