Steal This Lesson: Engaging Students in Haiti Efforts

The earthquake hit Haiti during the last week of classes at Facing History High School. Knowing I’d get some grumbles, I decided to forgo a party, and take some action. With one class period of the semester left, it had to be something that could happen in an hour and 10 minutes.


I did some thinking about how to most effectively engage youth in relief efforts, knowing that:


a) most youth are not making much money and


b) won’t be traveling and


c) asking other people to donate is fine, but they are their own “target donation audience.” plus,


d) it is empowering to be able to make the contribution out of your own pocket, which often youth aren’t able to do.

Here is how high school students can engage in a one-shot class in helping Haiti:


1. Begin with reading an article about Haiti and showing photos of the devastation. Discuss. In my experience, the photos are where the “story” becomes real. Very, very important for students to have a visual understanding of the devastation in order to connect.


2. Offer the perspective of “little ripples” making big differences. You might want to share the ideas from my 2009 project, “The Little Ripple Project” (see short video) or Sallome Hralima’s iPromise campaign.


3. Share information on how to donate SMALL AMOUNTS through text messages. This engages the youth where they are at (technology) and a price they can potentially afford. Two organizations you can do this with:  Text message “YELE” to 501501 to donate $5 to Wyclef Jean’s Yele Haiti organization. Text message “HAITI” to 90999 to donate $10 to Red Cross.


4) Make handmade flyers with this information on them to pass out. Each student commits to giving at least one flyer to a friend and asks that once the friend makes their contribution, to pass the flyer on to another friend. The idea is that if each student makes five flyers and the flyers pass through 50 hands of people who see how easy it is to donate… well, do the math!


I hope this helps you to engage your youth… or friends… or anyone.