World Connect Expands School Programming to Promote Global Citizenship

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More middle and high school students around the country to learn about global issues and how to become effective global citizens

World Connect, a non-profit global development organization, believes that young people are critical partners in building a more connected world and in this spirit is expanding its youth programming, Kids Connect, to schools across the country. Kids Connect brings World Connect’s international development work into middle and high school classrooms, teaching young people about global issues, facilitating cross-cultural communication, and inspiring students towards lives of philanthropy and community service.

World Connect works in partnership with teams of Peace Corps Volunteers and local community leaders around the world to develop innovative projects that improve communities, with a focus on impacting the lives of women and children. Projects establish initiatives that promote health, improve the environment and increase education and economic development opportunities for women and children and lead to sustainable, lasting impact for the communities where they occur.

“The experience that Kids Connect offers to young people is extraordinary,” said Dr. Nan Wodarz, Head of School at The Sage School, a Pre-K to Grade 8 school for academically gifted students, in Foxboro, Massachusetts. Students at Sage just launched a fundraiser to support a creative arts and science education project in El Salvador that aims to combat elevated high school dropout rates in two rural Salvadoran villages. Students learn about a new part of the world, what kinds of challenges women and children face there, and how they can help. “It’s a very empowering experience for youth and very eye opening,” said Dr. Wodarz.

“At World Connect we have been implementing international projects that improve the lives of women and children since 2005. We’ve learned from listening to our young volunteers that global progress is made not only through good development projects but importantly, through good partnerships and good communication,” said Pamela Nathenson, World Connect’s Executive Director. “The world is more integrated than ever. Putting young people in the U.S. in a position to tackle global challenges will not only impact their understanding of the world, but will mobilize an important and powerful constituency in assisting communities in need in the developing world,” said Nathenson.

To date, World Connect has implemented more than 660 projects in 13 developing countries. As Kids Connect participants share their social action and excitement, increasingly whole families are getting involved, some traveling to visit projects in the field together. World Connect thus provides opportunities for families to share the experience of making the world a better place together. “These are experiences I wish every child growing up in America could have,” said Marcie Tyre Berkley, whose son Linc has been involved in Kids Connect for five years during which he mobilized his school to raise funds for recycling and education projects in Costa Rica.

“Our organization is unique in that it combines international development and youth development,” said Patrick Higdon, World Connect’s Program Manager. “Students who work with us get real world experience in the field of international development while contributing in real time to World Connect’s ongoing international projects,” said Higdon.

Students can launch Kids Connect at their schools this spring by registering with World Connect, selecting an international project to fundraise for and working with World Connect’s staff to understand the background of the country where the project will take place and the issues and challenges faced by local populations. Students and schools are encouraged to sign up now as spring projects are getting underway. To learn more about Kids Connect, please contact KidsConnect(at)worldconnect-us(dot)org. More information about World Connect can be found at http://www.worldconnect-us.org.

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Pamela Nathenson
pnathenson@worldconnect-us.org
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