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CES Lessons in Empathy: Healing Backpacks

At Cardston Elementary School, Grade 5 students are expanding their learning by thinking outside of their classroom walls and engaging in meaningful projects to show compassion for their fellow students.

CES Principal Stacy Jacobs explains that the 'Healing Backpack" project was born out of a conversation with Ramona Bighead, former vice principal at Cardston Elementary School, after the need for a compassionate response became evident amidst the devastating effects of the opioid epidemic, which tragically impacted several CES families.

"When we learned about students in our school facing such loss, we felt compelled to do something tangible to show our care and support," shared CES principal Stacy Jacobs. "Ramona's advice was simple yet powerful – ‘just do something.’ It's about taking action, showing we care."

Grade 5 students, supported by their teachers and the CES school council, have enthusiastically taken up this mission. They are in the process of assembling backpacks filled with items like Squishmallows, blankets, fidget toys, books, bracelets and more. These carefully chosen items are more than just gifts; they represent comfort, care, and a sense of community belonging.

Layla Simmons, a student involved in the project, explains, "We're helping people in our community who might be struggling. It's about spreading comfort and kindness."

Although the timing coincides with Christmas, this initiative is not limited to the holiday season; it's a year-round commitment to respond to the needs of the CES community whenever they arise. "We will keep these backpacks ready for anyone in our community who might need them," Grade 5 student and project leader Fynlee Boehmer added.

"Through this 'Healing Backpacks' project, our students are learning valuable lessons in empathy, community involvement, and the impactful nature of kindness," says Principal Jacobs. "This has shown us that it’s important to help those who are going through tough times," explained Savannah Stevens, another Grade 5 student.

This initiative at Cardston Elementary is a wonderful example of how young students can positively influence their community and shows the power of collective action and the profound impact that even small acts of kindness can have in bringing hope and healing.


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