Fifth graders fighting poverty |

Fifth graders fighting poverty

LORY POUNDERsummit daily newsSummit County, CO Colorado
Summit Daily/Mark Fox

SUMMIT COVE As the fifth-grade reading group at Summit Cove Elementary School read stories of malnourished, orphaned African children, they decided to take action to fight poverty there.”I was just so disturbed by what I read and saw,” said Debra Mitchell, a fifth-grade teacher who approached the reading group to see if they wanted to help. She showed the students an article, “How to End Poverty,” that ran in TIME magazine about two years ago – a story that stuck with her since it came out.They were moved by what they heard and continued to investigate this issue facing the world. The children scoured the internet for information and talked about the struggles people go through because of disease, weather-related tragedies and famine.

Mitchell and the students were overwhelmed by the massive problem and information, so they chose to concentrate their efforts in Africa because of the extreme poverty and need that is not getting any better.Last week, the students held a fundraiser to help a school in South Africa. They showed a movie at Summit Cove, sold baked goods and pizza. In all, they raised $1,385.45 that will soon be on its way overseas.Almost half the population in Africa lives in extreme poverty, the students said as they gave a report they put together to let people know about the issue. And everyday 6,500 people die from AIDS/HIV.If more people knew about the serious suffering, more could be done to help, they said.Fifth-grader Steven Hoke said, “We learned a lot about poverty.”

A moment later, Megan Heil, added, “I didn’t even know about poverty before we started.”The money raised by the fifth-graders will be sent to the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy, just south of Johannesburg, South Africa, that opened this year. The students researched the organization and chose it because “it will fit what we wanted to do,” Mitchell said.Megan said she liked the idea of helping the school because “an education will last them forever.”Oprah opened the school to give girls who have had difficult lives an education and chance to inspire change. Many of the girls come from families affected by HIV/ AIDS.

According to AVERT, an international AIDS charity, Africa has 12 million children orphaned because of the disease. Also, about 63 percent of all those living with HIV worldwide are in sub-Saharan Africa.In an article by the Associated Press, it said that by educating girls, Winfrey hoped she could “change the face of a nation.””Girls who are educated are less likely to get HIV/AIDS, and in this country which has such a pandemic, we have to begin to change the pandemic,” she told the Associated Press.Lory Pounder can be reached at (970) 668-4628, or at

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