Huntington High School’s indefatigable Interact Club took delight in participating in a community service activity with Jefferson Primary School students one recent afternoon.
Interact is always searching for opportunities “to work with more members of the community and help encourage people to be kind and give service above self,” club faculty advisor Camille J. Tedeschi said. The organization found just such an opportunity at Jefferson.
Interact 's Camille Tedeschi (center) with guard Sylvia Belanger and Young Leaders founder Kevin Thorbourne.
“For many years the club has been working with the Washington School student leadership team and teacher Debbie Quiles and now this year we have connected with the Jefferson School student leadership team and Dr. Kathleen Ozimkowski to start building more bonds with younger kids in our school district,” Ms. Tedeschi said. “Helping others, being kind and standing up for what you believe in helps to guide and model for students in the process of learning what it takes to be a leader.”
The high school teenagers and the Jefferson youngsters quickly bonded with one another. “The more people and young kids specifically, that Interact members can meet and establish connections with will help us influence a larger group of people in the community to perform good deeds and be kind to others,” Ms. Tedeschi said.
The goal at Jefferson was to build friendships and develop durable connections with an eye toward collaborating on future projects. Interact Club members taught the third and fourth graders how to go about making rafiki bracelets.
“Rafiki means friend in Swahili,” Ms. Tedeschi explained. “This is an item that a group of us learned when we traveled on a service learning trip to Tanzania in 2016. It was an experience that changed our lives and we wanted to bring it back to our local community. We make rafikis with lots of different groups of people and sell them to raise money for a variety of funds, including the Eli Mollineax Fund.”
Interact was joined at Jefferson School by some members of the high school student government and Young Leaders youth development organization. As the afternoon activity unfolded, the third and fourth graders and the teenagers inspired one another with their good natured attitudes and desire to help others.
“Each child made a bracelet to take home and one to donate for sale at a PTA event to help raise money for hurricane victims,” Ms. Tedeschi said. “During the collaboration of making the rafikis, students had the opportunity to speak with each other and learn things about each other.”
Whenever they go out into the community and complete a project or activity, the Interact Club members “feel a tremendous amount of happiness,” Ms. Tedeschi said. “I am always so proud of what these students can accomplish. I take a step back and realize how grateful I am to be the advisor of this club and work with these impressive kids.”