Northville's Kids Against Hunger Program Selected From 82 Schools For Award
- School: Northville Public Schools
- Award: Champion for Children Award
From a Northville Public Schools press release:
Northville community members Diane Powers, Sue Simcox and Joan Wadsworth are the recipients of the 2011 Michigan Association of School Administrators (MASA) Region 9 Champion for Children Award for their vision in bringing school children across the metro area together to learn, meet new friends, and help others through Bridgepointe and the Kids Against Hunger Michigan Coalition “Michigan Project.”
Powers, Simcox and Wadsworth were recognized at the March 4 Tri-County Alliance for Public Education Meeting in Detroit where they were presented with a mounted crystal vase. The Regional Champion for Children Award is given each year to an individual(s) who has shown tremendous effort, dedication and enthusiasm in enriching the lives of children and enhancing their success and achievement in school. MASA Region 9 is comprised of the 82 school districts in Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties (except for Detroit).
“It is clear to see that Bridgepointe, under the passionate and devoted guidance of Diane Powers, Sue Simcox and Joan Wadsworth, is improving the lives and enhancing the educational experiences of children throughout Southeast Michigan and beyond,” said Northville Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Leonard R. Rezmierski, who nominated the three women for the award. “Northville is fortunate to have Diane, Sue and Joan as part of our community. Through the Bridgepointe partnerships and Kids Against Hunger our students have the opportunity to be part of an experience that will likely influence their lives for years to come.”
In 1998, Northville school parents Powers and Simcox and their children spent an afternoon with third graders at a southwest Detroit school. The experience was eye-opening and the result was Bridgepointe, a non-profit organization that empowers school children from the city and suburbs to make a difference in their community and in the world. It creates opportunities for school children to learn from each other through special programs, activities and tutoring. Bridgepointe also provides essentials, such as clothing and food.
Not long after Bridgepointe’s creation, Northville Board of Education member and community leader Joan Wadsworth joined Bridgepointe as a early and active volunteer helping to facilitate partnerships between suburban and inner-city school and becoming a tutor and regular helper at the Bridgepointe schools.
Today, some 30 suburban school and many community organizations share relationships with the eight Bridgepointe schools in southwest Detroit and Hamtramck through the School-to-School Partnership Program. Over the years, staff and students from these suburban and inner-city schools have formed friendships of sharing and learning as pen pals, by visiting each other’s schools, and through special projects such as Kids Against Hunger food packaging events. Each year, more than 1,200 students from Bridgepointe partner schools participate in Kids Against Hunger and hundreds more take part in other Bridgepointe activities.
“What these young people discover through these relationships is that although their experiences and cultures may be different, they have a lot in common,” Dr. Rezmierski said. “By encouraging children to build ‘bridges’ between city and suburban communities, Bridgepointe is helping create a future where such divisions no longer exist.”
“It is such an honor for all of us involved with Bridgepointe to receive this award,” Sue Simcox said. “Our mission is to empower all children through education with interaction and the Kids Against Hunger program exemplifies this. This type of interaction allows for the breakdown of existing social barriers, while also giving everyone a sense of pride and accomplishment. Bridgepointe and Kids Against Hunger have been successful because of the strong commitment of the school communities, the kindness of our generous donors, the efforts of our many volunteers, and most importantly, the hard work and enthusiasm of the children who participate.”
Now in its sixth year, the unique “Michigan Project” partnership between Bridgepointe, Kids Against Hunger, and the Kiwanis International Michigan District, along with numerous other local school and community groups, has enabled more than 28,000 school-aged volunteers across the state to take part in the Kids Against Hunger experience.
Kids Against Hunger is an international, volunteer-driven, non-profit organization dedicated to providing nutritious food to malnourished and starving children throughout the world and right here at home. The “Michigan Project” brings food packaging events into the school setting. Statewide, Michigan school children have assembled more than three million meals through the “Michigan Project.”
During the food packaging events students work together on an assembly line to measure, weigh and seal 13.8-ounce bags of nutritious rice-soy mix that can each feed six adults or 12 children. One-third of the food from each packaging event goes to local food banks to help those in need in the community. Another third goes to feed the starving in Third World countries. And one-third goes to help those in the U.S. and worldwide struck by natural disaster.
Powers, Simcox and Wadsworth believe so strongly in the power of the Kids Against Hunger experience for young people that they have worked to spread the word to other school districts across the state. In September 2008 and January 2010, Bridgepointe, Kids Against Hunger, Kiwanis and MASA joined forces to sponsor food packaging events at the MASA conferences in Traverse City and Detroit with the goal of exposing school district leaders to Kids Against Hunger and inspiring them to take the program back to their school communities. Today, 15 Michigan school districts participate in Kids Against Hunger from Grosse Pointe, to Sault Ste Marie, to Linden, to Birmingham, to Clio.
Along with Kids Against Hunger and the School-to-School Partnerships, Bridgepointe provides many other ongoing programs including a Mentoring/Lunch Buddy Program where adult volunteers meet with students from Bridgepointe schools at least twice a month for lunch and support and a Tutoring and Literacy Program where volunteers (including high school students) provide reading help to young students. Bridgepointe volunteers also regularly sponsor holiday parties, career days, and field trips and educational seminars for the schools. Bridgepointe volunteers also provide food and clothing for children and families in southwest Detroit throughout the year.