Posted on 01 February 2012 by Keith Lacey
What started out with two dollars and a dream is close to becoming reality as young Teagan Adams from Osoyoos and his parents Chantelle and Justin are only weeks away from embarking on the trip of a lifetime to help school children in Africa.
Eight months ago, Teagan’s parents gave Teagan, 9, and his brother Tate, 8, two dollars each and asked them “to use their imagination and creativity” to try and raise money to help a worthy cause, said Chantelle.
“I gave them each a couple of dollars and told them to take that money and come up with their own creative ideas … the only thing we had in mind was for the money to be used to try and help others who might be less fortunate,” she said. “We didn’t say how they could raise the money or for what as we left that up to them.”
A couple of weeks later, Chantelle and her husband were reading about Free the Children, the renowned organization dedicated to helping eradicate poverty in the Third World, and that organization’s commitment to building schools in Africa.
After a “family discussion”, Teagan and Tate decided any money they raised would go towards helping build a new school in Kenya.
The Adams boys then went to work as Teagan opened his own lemonade stand at Osoyoos Elementary School, while Tate hosted a couple of magic shows for friends and neighbours.
They also collected bottles for a bottle drive, with help from their siblings Tanner, 5, and Serenity, 4, making the fundraising efforts truly a family affair.
“I’m very proud of all of my kids for getting involved,” she said. “Teagan and Tate have done a lot of the work, but the two younger ones wanted to get involved too and really helped out during the bottle drive.”
She and her husband have tried to instill the need to help others in their children from a very young age and obviously the message has gotten through.
“We’ve tried to teach them that we’re very lucky here in Canada, but there are other people who aren’t as fortunate,” she said. “The good news is they get it and know how lucky they are … and they really do want to help others who don’t have what they have.”
Teagan was all smiles when he informed the board of trustees with School District 53 last Wednesday night that he and his brother have raised over $2,200 since June.
“I like pizza, reading, playing guitar, making Legos, and, of course, changing the world,” said Teagan, who said he was nervous, but certainly didn’t show it during his presentation to district trustees and administration.
With a substantial amount of money now raised, Teagan’s plan is to approach elementary school teachers across the school district in the next couple of weeks, said his proud mother.
“What we’ve decided to do is have Teagan give $100 to as many classrooms as he can throughout the district,” she said. “We hope that students in each class will want to get involved and can help raise additional money. If it goes like we hope it will, we think we can take the money already raised and increase that substantially by getting other school children involved. Hopefully we will have raised enough build one or two schools when we visit Kenya in April.”
Two teachers from Osoyoos Elementary School have already jumped on board and accepted Teagan’s $100 donation and are planning fundraising events and she expects similar reaction from other teachers in the next few weeks, said Chantelle.
“So far we have two classrooms involved and the reaction has been great, now we need another 18 or 20 teachers who want to get their classrooms involved.”
While it’s difficult to comprehend for many, a new one-room school can be built for less than $10,000 in Kenya, she said.
“That’s enough to have bricks, a nice roof and windows,” she said. “These are small, one-classroom schools, but they’re very nice and much better than what they’ve been forced to use.”
Being able to travel to Africa “has been a dream of mine since I was a young girl” and being able to travel there with her husband and young son to help a worthy cause is a dream come true, she said.
“To think we’re only a few weeks from actually going over there to help build a school is very exciting,” she said. “I hope one day to be able to bring all of my children over to Africa to work on another project, but they’re too young for that right now. Teagan is a very mature little guy and I know he’s ready to take this on now.”
Teagan said he’s enjoyed being an entrepreneur with his brother and very much looks forward to raising more money before travelling to Kenya in April.
“We’ve had a lot of good times,” he said.
While many kids his age worship professional athletes and musicians, Teagan said his hero is Craig Kielburger, the founder of Free the Children.
By conducting research about child poverty in Africa and Free the Children, Teagan and his mother also read about the Early Entrepreneur Experiment, headed up by British Columbia teacher Taylor Gordon.
Gordon’s company came up with the concept of taking a small amount of money and donating it to teachers and students and asking them to get involved in their own fundraising ventures.
With a $100 donation by his organization to several classrooms in B.C., students, with support from their parents, quickly raised $17,000 or enough to build almost two schools in a matter of weeks.
After seeing his presentation online, Chantelle contacted Gordon and that’s how she came up with the idea to take the money her sons have already raised and and donate it to get other school children involved.
Teagan and his mom received a nice round of applause from school board trustees and administration following their presentation.
Justin Adams said he couldn’t be prouder of his kids and wife for their hard work and dedication and trying to make a difference to helping other children half a world away in Africa.
“I can’t keep up to them, but I try my best,” he said smiling.
Teagan and his parents will be spending 10 days in Kenya and plan on recording everything so they can encourage others to get involved in future projects once they return to Canada.