Degrassi’s Sam Earle, who plays K.C. Guthrie on Degrassi: The Next Generation, visited Earl Grey Senior Public School on Friday, February 24, 2012 to talk to the school about his participation in a Free the Children project, building a playground for an FTC school in Terre Cassée, Haiti.
In a wonderful confluence of events, this FTC school in Terre Cassée was the very same school that Earl Grey PS earthquake-proofed last year with funds raised in part by its Cuppa Change program, in part by other generous donations, and in part by earlier Earl Grey FTC clubs. Sam, in fact, was one of the students who started the social justice club at Earl Grey Sr. PS when he was a student there himself. He graduated from Earl Grey PS in 2007.
During Friday’s assembly, Sam showed a documentary made by Much TV that followed him and his Degrassi: the Next Generation co-stars on an FTC trip to Haiti to build the playground. You can see it here.
After Earl Grey’s students watched the documentary, Sam talked about his experience visiting Haiti. He told the kids about driving from the airport through Port-Au-Prince, where, two years after the earthquake, there are still 100,000 people who have no homes and are forced to live in tents that must often house up to 12 people per tent.
Sam and his Degrassi co-stars worked on the Terre Cassée playground with the locals, learned how to carry water up a hill, and visited the nearby overcrowded health clinic. Sam spoke of not only being deeply impressed by all the work that is going on in Terre Cassée, but also by the locals’ resilience. They have been through so much, and yet they know there is much to be done, and are working for their future.
Sam told the Earl Grey audience of Grade 7s and 8s, “you helping in rural communities from the ground up is key.” He told them not to feel intimidated to change the world. Change happens with you and your friends. “It starts with the room you’re in,” Sam said. “If your friend has an idea [about how to effect social change], support it.”
Earl Grey’s FTC Club clearly agrees with Sam. On the day of Sam’s visit, the club was throwing a “Hats Off For Haiti” event. For the low low cost of $1, participants could wear a hat in school for the whole day. Earl Grey’s principal, Mr. Jahangir, wore a cool fedora. Two of the school’s teachers, Ms. Deemac and Ms. Miller, also sported great hats.
One hundred and eighty dollars was raised in one day alone for Earl Grey’s efforts in Terre Cassée, Haiti.
Meanwhile, Cuppa Change’s program at Earl Grey continues full steam ahead. Cuppa Change buys fair trade coffee, tea and hot chocolate from Alternative Grounds at wholesale prices. The community at Earl Grey buys these goods at a small mark-up, and the school’s FTC Club uses the profit to support the Free the Children school in Terre Cassée, Haiti. In this way, one school in one country is supporting another school in another country, and making a difference.
As Sam Earle told the assembly, “the work you’re doing does matter.”
Thanks for the visit to your alma mater, Sam, for your work starting the FTC Club at Earl Grey, for your inspiring words to the current FTC Club and, indeed, the whole student body.
The work you’re doing matters, too.