A simple children’s book with an important domestic violence message, inspired a group of Payson High School students to give back to the community in more ways than one.
Recently, Shelly Camp’s recourse English class read the “Magic Beads,” by Susin Nielsen-Fernlund. The book portrays 7-year-old Lillian’s journey through the first week at a new school. She and her mother recently left Lillian’s abusive father and all of their possessions when they moved into a shelter. Although she has little possessions, Lillian learns to use her imagination to turn something ordinary, like a string of beads, into something magical.
After reading the book in class, Camp suggested students read the book to a group of third-grade students at Julia Randall Elementary School and discuss the book’s main topics, domestic violence and shelters.
Students also decided to make throw blankets for the Time Out Shelter.
“This is a positive way for them to use the skills learned in class and to teach something along the way,” Camp said.
Camp’s students, who need extra help building reading and English skills, agreed that the book offered valuable messages about domestic violence that should be shared. Several students pointed out that a number of children are at the shelter because of domestic violence. Although most of them don’t have a lot of toys, they can use their imagination to still have fun.
“You don’t need expensive toys,” Camp said.
On Dec. 10, Camp’s class visited with students in Julie Eckhardt’s class and took turns reading a page from the “Magic Beads.”
Reading aloud builds students’ reading fluency, comprehension and gives them a boost in confidence, Camp said.
PHS student Tasha Horbatiuk said she is shy, especially about reading in public, but this exercise gave her confidence.
David Tucker said it was awesome to read to the students and hang out with them. Afterward, high school students sat down with the third-graders and made their own string of magic beads. Darlene Curlee, director of operations for Time Out, also spoke about Time Out’s resources and what students can do if they need help or find themselves in an abusive situation.
Brett High said he had never worked with children before and thought it was fun. In the future, he would like to do it again.
Camp’s students also presented Curlee with 20 throw blankets for children at the shelter. Camp used money from a grant to purchase several yards of fleece to make the no-sew blankets.
“I contacted the shelter and they said they need small blankets,” Camp said. Jonathan Couch said it was fun making the blankets especially since they were going to a worthy organization.
In one activity, students expanded their reading skills and learned the value of community service. “That is what service learning is all about,” Camp said.