Increased reading speed, vast knowledge, vocabulary expansion, improved memory, increased analytical and critical thinking skills, better writing skills, better imagination, mental stimulation, tranquility and stress reduction, hours of entertainment – the widely claimed benefits of reading are numerous. In this year’s Maji Safi Read-a-thons, 57 Boulder Valley School District students reaped all of them and at the same time learned about global issues, empathy, social responsibility and helping others through personal effort.
The 2017 Maji Safi Read-a-thon at Whittier International Elementary School in Boulder was the fifth annual, and for Ryan Elementary School in Lafayette, it was a first. Staff, donors and many families love this recurring win-win situation that Maji Safi Group brings to the educational setting to encourage students to become excellent readers and ‘young global citizens’. This spring, the 57 participants read 650 books and raised over $8,000 for Maji Safi Group’s After School Program in Tanzania where children receive fun and interactive water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) education to learn how to stay healthy and succeed in school. Since July 2012, Maji Safi Group’s Community Health Educators have taught 6000+ students in 10 schools, and in 2015, the District Education Office approved Maji Safi Group to teach WASH education in all 125 primary schools in the Rorya District.
Read-a-thons are especially a great fit for IB schools, like Whittier, with a Primary Years Programme (PYP) whose stated goal is the development of the whole child, preparing students to become active, caring, lifelong learners who demonstrate respect for themselves and others and participate in the world around them. The Wildcat Student Council at Whittier backs the project, and members create momentum by visiting classrooms, making and distributing posters, and making school-wide announcements. At Ryan Elementary, this first Maji Safi Read-a-thon was a fifth-grade project organized by teacher Molly Hayes.
Thanks for organizing such wonderful opportunities for our neighborhood kids to grow up really seeing firsthand how they as individuals have a positive impact on the lives of others.
– Whittier parent –
This year, we honored all participants with certificates, thank you cards made by our program participants in Tanzania, ‘young global citizen’ photographs and ice cream coupons donated by Ben & Jerry’s Scoop Shop, Lindsay’s Boulder Deli and Eats & Sweets. We also had the special honor of recognizing three ‘young global citizens’ at Whittier who have participated all five years: Amanda Kohla, Calder Leland and Sean Lewis.
I have participated in the Maji Safi Read-a-thon for five years now. It has been an amazing experience for me. I chose to do this because I love reading and I love helping people. I have always had enough of everything. Some people in Tanzania don’t. They don’t even have clean water. One of my favorite things is reading. Being able to read and at the same time help children and adults in Tanzania was cool. I have had fun getting to raise money for these people, reading books, and getting to know the people that organize this.
– Amanda Kohla –
This spring also included working with students in the Leadership Class at Casey Middle School in Boulder. Offering the students in this elective to do a ‘Global Improvement project’ with Maji Safi Group has become standard every semester. This time, four students participated in an art project where they made beautiful greeting cards with alcohol ink. The cards were sold at Africa Night in April and brought in well over $100.
As Whittier graduates continue their education at Casey Middle School, Boulder High School and CU at Boulder, we are hoping to create a ‘young global citizen’ trail through the Boulder Valley School System and beyond. Anyone who is interested in helping young people get involved in empowering the vulnerable groups we work with in rural Tanzania is most welcome to contact Maji Safi Group about opportunities inside or outside school. We are only an email or a phone call away and happy to discuss tailor-made projects suitable for individual families or educational settings. We absolutely love seeing kids helping kids.
A huge thank you to all our readers and their families, their teachers, their donors and our generous ice cream vendors!