You never know who your teachers will be. Sometimes it’s an unexpected surprise.
There were twenty of them, all students at my neighborhood high school – Elgin Park Secondary in Surrey, British Columbia. They had come together to create a legacy. Most were graduating and wanted to leave a mark in the school and community before moving on. They had a mentor, one exceptional teacher with a passion for youth and leadership — PE Department head Sue Janzen.
They began in February and were in the planning and organizational process until last Wednesday, when everything came to fruition, it was event day! They called it CYCLE4:ER – a 12 hour spin-a-thon – raising money and awareness for the local hospital’s Emergency Room expansion. The gymnasium was alive with non-stop activity and energy from 8 am – 8 pm. More than 700 people participated from students to business leaders, medical personnel, families and seniors. People were moving and active, focused on healthy living. The multi-generational theme unified members of the community in a common cause and forged new friendships.
The icing on the cake – when all pledge sheets were in and envelopes of cash and cheques counted a whopping $48,600.00 was raised!
Pretty outstanding! But as awesome as it is, that’s not what they taught me.
What I learned from them was bigger…. it was how they did it!
Lesson #1- Be driven by passion
After careful consideration the students decided the Peace Arch Hospital Emergency expansion would be their focus and benefactor. They came to the conclusion after asking themselves, “Wutz the ER done 4 U?” The tally revealed 4 concussions treated, numerous wounds stitched, 8 broken bones set and 3 lives saved…that cinched it. They visited the hospital, talked to staff, produced a CYCLE4:ER promotional video and told the story over and over making others aware of the need and importance. They were driven by passion.
Lesson #2 – Say YES!
I attended many of the leadership team meetings. As you can imagine there were many parts to creating an event of this magnitude. Team members had to step up, take responsibility and lead….often in areas they knew little about and had no experience in. What I heard again and again was “YES, I can do that!” Fearlessly learning as they went…..cold calling on potential sponsors, creatively coming up with 12 hours of non-stop entertainment, inspiring 700 people to participate and raise money, figuring out a logistics and IT plan for the day, professionally promoting the event at a community Gala….. and that’s just for starters.
Lesson #3 – It takes a TEAM
Many of the team members were also on school sport teams vying for regional and provincial titles, some were deep in the college application process, all were in the thick of classes and exams…. these were busy kids. But they always maintained their commitment to the leadership team. They knew a team is inter-connected and success relied on everyone carrying through on what they had committed to.
Lesson #4 – Roll with everything
It wasn’t always smooth sailing…the team ran into their share of obstacles….hiccups they didn’t expect. They paused only long enough to acknowledge the situation and then got to work on a solution and a new course of action. They rolled with everything that came their way and moved forward with optimism and humour!
Lesson #5 – Celebrate every success
At every meeting they took time to hear an update from every team member …every success big or small was celebrated with a quick WAHOOO and applause. These celebrations paved the way for more success!
Lesson #6 – Express thanks
I’m not sure how many sponsors they had in the end but I’m guessing about 50. These companies and individuals provided prizes, food, spin bikes and were integral to the event’s success. Their contributions reinforced the message that we accomplish great things not alone but in the company of others. Expressing thanks became a priority and opportunities were created to thank and showcase those who supported and helped make it happen.
Lesson #7 – BELIEVE
Kids are great they will never tell you why something can’t be done only that it CAN. These youthful leaders believed they could do it…..create an event that would draw hundreds of people…create an event that would inspire and unify a community and be FUN……..create an event that would raise BIG money for a hospital that they believed had, “never let us down.”
The CYCLE4:ER leadership team succeeded on more levels than they know. They gave peers role models they could aspire to. They brought pride to an entire school. They inspired, gave hope and warmed the hearts of a community. They got the hospital foundation fired up and seeing new possibilities. They created……a legacy.
On the day of the spin-a-thon I heard the same question asked over and over, “A group of kids did this?????”
YES, they did!
Special acknowledgement goes to to student leaders… Jane Peng, Maha Nagaria and Jason Abelson… the cropping on the blog photo template automatically narrows the sides of photo where they were standing. Although not shown all 3 were vital members of leadership team!